In public, the Republican Party leadership team is saying all the things they need to say to reassure their nervous members that the GOP is on track to maintain their majorities in both houses of Congress in the 2018 midterms later this November.
Privately, however, they’re hitting every panic button they can find and sounding the alarm over the blue tsunami they fear is headed their way.
Urgent calls and emails requesting donations have gone out in unexpectedly tight races in normally safely red districts. Efforts to find credible candidates to replace the record number of Republican incumbents who won’t be seeking reelection this cycle – including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan – have been underway for nearly a year.
And just a day after Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke won his senate primary race in Texas, his Republican opponent in November, Senator Ted Cruz, released a negative radio ad attacking O’Rourke’s nickname.
The desperate tactics and dirty tricks aren’t limited to the campaign trail, however. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears to have taken it upon himself to try to cripple Democratic incumbents in the upcoming elections.
The Republican-friendly Washington Examiner reported late Wednesday that Sen. McConnell is threatening to extend the Senate’s workweek to specifically to keep Democrats from leaving town early to campaign for the 2018 midterms in their home states.
According to the Examiner’s David M. Drucker, “Marc Short, White House point man for legislative affairs, told a small gathering of Republican donors this week that the majority leader plans to use this tactic in the weeks ahead to squeeze Democrats running for re-election in red states.”
The Examiner also quotes a prominent Republican donor saying that Sen. McConnell has singled out Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) with this tactic.
“McConnell wants to increase the days the Senate is open for business” in order to keep these red-state Democrats “tied up from campaigning,” the donor said, confirming the intent of the controversial move under consideration.
A spokeswoman for Sen. McConnell told the Examiner that the Majority Leader is in fact considering adding more work days to the Senate schedule, but she maintains that he’s doing to compensate for Democrats’ stalling on important business, like nominee confirmations for various administration and judicial vacancies.
“Sen. McConnell has been very clear that confirming the president’s nominees is and will remain a top priority for the Senate as was demonstrated last week,” Antonia Ferrier said in a statement.
I guess it depends on what you believe: The things Republicans are saying in public, or the comments and moves they’re desperately making behind closed doors.
The fact that both sets of comments and actions are polar opposites of each other says it all.