McConnell wins big
By Scott Wartman – Kentucky Enquirer
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell will get his wish to control the U.S. Senate after he won re-election Tuesday night.
For the past two years, McConnell has repeated over and over to voters across the state he wanted to go from Senate minority leader to Senate majority leader, or as he would say, go from “defensive coordinator to offensive coordinator.”
Voters agreed, electing McConnell over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes 56 percent to 41 percent with 99 percent of the precincts reporting as of press time. The Associated Press called the election at 7:01 p.m., one minute after polls closed in the western part of the state.
Republicans gained the six seats necessary to control the Senate and make McConnell “offensive coordinator.”
McConnell said the vote proved people don’t like how the government works. And by government, he meant President Barack Obama and the Democrats.
“It wasn’t about me or my opponent,” McConnell said Tuesday night at his victory celebration at the Louisville Marriott. “It was about a government people no longer trust to carry out its most basic duties–to keep them safe.”
But McConnell won after what was one of the most contested and expensive race he’s ran in the 30 years since he first got elected to the Senate. The Louisville Courier-Journal tallied $80 million spent on this race by McConnell, Grimes and outside groups. It ranks as one of the most expensive Senate races in the country.
Despite the large amount of money and rancor expended in the race, McConnell praised Grimes Tuesday night saying she earned his respect.
“It took a lot of guts to run a race like this,” McConnell said. “I admired her willingness to step into the arena. We need more people willing to do that.”
Grimes, in her concession speech, showed pride in the campaign she ran.
“Along that journey, we showed this nation what the Commonwealth is capable of — breaking records with our fundraisers and leading the nation with our work to build grassroots organizations” Grimes said.
Grimes used high-energy campaign stops and brought in Bill and Hillary Clinton six times in the past year—including four times in the final month.
She still fell short.
Grimes received flak from critics who felt she didn’t define herself. She received national criticism when she refused to say whether she voted for President Barack Obama in an attempt to distance herself from the unpopular president.
The race toward the end wasn’t even considered competitive for many analysts. Nathan Gonzales, with the Rothenberg Political Report, wrote on Election Day that the Republicans ran a very effective campaign against her. From the start, Republicans attacked her lack of experience and tied her with Obama. .
“Kentucky isn’t regarded as a first or second tier race anymore, and part of the reason might be because Republicans have successfully driven up Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’ negatives,” wrote Gonzales.
But the fact Grimes made it so competitive until the final few weeks seemed like a big accomplishment to people on both sides of the political aisle as well as political analysts.
What a GOP Senate
For now, people will speculate on what Republican control of the Senate will look like.
Many expect to see many long stalled Republican policies getting through Congress. That means it might not be a good time to be working at the Environmental Protection Agency or any other government regulatory business.
McConnell has pledged to attach riders to spending bills that would limit President Barack Obama’s policies on environmental regulations and health care among others.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Monday in a campaign stop for McConnell in Northern Kentucky told reporters that Republican control of the Senate will be an end to gridlock. Both McConnell and Paul pledged to compromise with the Democrats and accept amendments to legislation from Democrats.
“We’ll start passing bills and putting bills on the president’s desk,” Paul said. “For the last two years we’ve done absolutely nothing. It’s been at a standstill, primarily because Harry Reid has not been willing to work with the other side.”
Whether that’s true or not isn’t clear.
Not everyone agrees Reid, a Nevada senator and current Senate majority leader, can shoulder all the blame. Politifact.com found 342 bills that passed the House this year have not moved forward in the Senate. But other senators, including committee chairs appointed by Reid, also play a role in whether a bill moves forward.
Furthermore, the Washington Post found that it’s not unusual—with 11 out of the last 19 Congresses having more than 300 bills passed by the House that doesn’t go anywhere in the Senate.
But Republicans have pledged it will be different and expect to see bills passing Congress regularly and hitting the president’s desk.
Republicans have accused Democrats of shielding the president from having to veto anything. It is true, he has vetoed only two bills in office, a defense appropriation bill in 2009 and a bill in 2010 that would have removed some impediments to interstate commerce, according to the U.S. Senate’s website.
If he doesn’t veto anything else, it would be the fewest amount of vetoes since President James Garfield, who didn’t veto anything in his six month tenure, cut short by an assassin’s bullet.