- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he cannot predict whether Republicans will emerge next month with their Senate majority intact, saying there are too many races that could go either way at this point.

But he and Sen. Lindsey Graham, speaking to the Heritage Foundation, said Republican voters are finally energized to turn out, thanks to Democrats’ overreach on the confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, which bodes well for the GOP candidates in the nine races that will determine the Senate.

Mr. Graham said voters need to make sure Democrats “get their ass kicked” for the way they treated Justice Kavanaugh, saying that would be a way to put the genie back in the bottle after the nastiness of the last few months.

“There’s a goodness about America that we’re going to find in three weeks,” Mr. Graham said. That goodness is going to say, to my Democratic colleagues, you went too far.”

The Heritage audience delivered several major rounds of applause to Mr. Graham and also cheered the mention of Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who is often at odds with the conservative think tank’s political goals.

And they applauded Mr. McConnell, whose decision in 2016 not to allow the Senate to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia kept it in play for President Trump to pick a replacement last year in Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

“Sometimes the decision about what not to do will be the most consequential thing you do,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Turning to the election in three weeks, he listed the nine states where the Senate majority will be determined: Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee, held currently by Republicans, and Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, which each have Democratic incumbents running for re-election.

“All of those could go either way, and so the honest answer is, three weeks out, we’re not certain how it’s going to come out,” Mr. McConnell said, in a blunt assessment of his party’s prospects.

For his part Mr. Graham was more optimistic, saying the Tennessee race is quickly moving into the GOP’s hands and said he likes the GOP’s chances to hold Arizona, with good pickup opportunities in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri in particular.

“We’re off to the races, everything’s breaking our way,” Mr. Graham said.

Mr. McConnell said the payoff for conservatives if they help keep the Senate in GOP’s hands is more of Mr. Trump’s judges getting installed on the courts.

“If we can hold the Senate I assure you we will complete the job of transforming the federal judiciary,” he said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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