Republican Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has warned that his party is in real danger of losing its control of the chamber after the November election.
On Aug. 11, McConnell voiced concerns that a down-ballot blowout in the election could occur, crippling GOP lawmakers’ ability to block judicial appointments made during the potential presidency of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, The Associated Press reports.
Addressing a civic group in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell pointed out that 24 senatorial seats held by Republicans were up for reelection this year, while the Democrats only have 10 seats up for grabs.
The Senate majority leader deemed the GOP’s chances of holding onto enough seats to maintain its majority “very dicey.”
If Democratic candidates manage to wrest five seats away from GOP senators, McConnell warned that Republicans would lose their control of the Senate and their ability “to impact judicial appointments will be considerably diminished.”
In February, minutes after the death of conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, McConnell issued a statement announcing that the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee would not be holding a vote for any replacement appointed by President Barack Obama.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell wrote, reports The Huffington Post. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
The Judiciary Committee has refused to hold hearings for Obama’s appointee, Judge Merrick Garland. Now, McConnell has voiced concerns that efforts to stall Scalia’s replacement could result in the Republicans having no power to override a Clinton appointee after November.
McConnell did not directly blame GOP nominee Donald Trump for tilting the Senate races against the Republicans but said he hopes the business mogul “settles down and follows the script.”
The Senate majority leader has endorsed Trump for the White House but has previously been critical of the GOP nominee.
On June 10, McConnell told CNN that “it’s pretty obvious [Trump] doesn’t know a lot about the issues.”
Now the Senate majority leader has warned that GOP lawmakers in New Hampshire, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida and Indiana will be vulnerable to losing their reelection bids to Democrats.
“I may or may not be calling the shots next year,” McConnell said.
The same day that McConnell warned of the GOP losing control of the Senate, 70 Republicans signed a letter addressed to the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, demanding he commit all of the RNC resources to helping down-ballot candidates instead of Trump, Politico reports.
“We believe that Donald Trump’s divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck,” the letter read.