Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse is reportedly headed to Washington this week to meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Oh, to be the fly on the wall during that conversation.
Sasse is the Senate Conservatives Fund’s anointed candidate in the race for Nebraska’s open Senate seat. McConnell and the rest of the GOP in Washington have all but declared war on the SCF and other anti-establishment Republican groups.
SCF is the group that spent $1 million to bring Ted Cruz to the Senate. It claims credit for Deb Fischer’s successful Senate race last year. It not only runs ads attacking current Republican members of the Senate, but it helps their opponents raise money.
So what will McConnell have to say to Sasse?
The Weekly Standard says McConnell aides are downplaying the significance of the meeting. McConnell tries to meet with all Republican Senate candidates, they say, so the Sasse meeting is just another day at the office for McConnell.
And that may very well be.
McConnell is 71. Sasse is 42. McConnell has been in the Senate since Sasse was in middle school. Sasse spent a few years in Washington working for Rep. Jeff Fortenberry or in the Department of Health and Human Services. McConnell has served about as many terms in the Senate as Sasse has years in Washington.
The naturally soft-spoken McConnell may have little to say to Sasse. His beef is with Sasse’s benefactors at the SCF and the other groups that back Republicans so extreme in their conservatism that they lose in the general election. Among the SCF’s most notable failures are Todd “legitimate rape” Akin in Missouri, Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell in Delaware, and Sharron “Second Amendment remedies” Angle in Nevada.
Sasse’s prospects in the May primary are uncertain. Sasse has the SCF and Club for Growth endorsements, but former State Treasurer Shane Oborn is the establishment’s candidate. Sasse’s campaign has thus far centered on abolishing the Affordable Care Act, an odd choice considering that Obamacare will have been fully implemented for more than a year by the time Nebraska’s new senator even takes office.
McConnell told the Wall Street Journal that if Republicans are going to regain control of the Senate, they must back candidates “that don’t scare the general public, [and] convey the impression that we could actually be responsible for governing, you can trust us — we’re adults here, we’re grown-ups.”
He said the Senate Conservatives Fund “has elected more democrats than the Democratic Senatorial Committee over the past three cycles.”
What’s worse, SCF and tea party groups raise money from unsuspecting Americans after giving them unrealistic expectations of what Republicans can accomplish in the Senate with a 10-seat disadvantage to the Democratic majority.
“They’ve been told the reason we can’t get better outcomes than we’ve gotten is not because the Democrats control the Senate and the White House but because Republicans have been insufficiently feisty. Well, that’s just not true,” McConnell told the WSJ‘s Peggy Noonan.
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