McConnell wants to trap Democrats in DC to stop them from campaigning
The latest desperate maneuver from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is to try to keep Democratic senators off the campaign trail this fall.
McConnell “is planning to keep the chamber in session for a significant portion of October if not four entire weeks, costing Democrats key campaign trail days and allowing the Senate to continue its work into the fall,” Politico reports.
By contrast, the House is expected to go on recess during the second half of September and all of October because of the campaign season.
Far more Democratic incumbent senators have to defend their seats in swing states this year than do Republicans. If the Senate stays in session, those Democrats seeking re-election could be prevented from traveling to their home states to campaign.
McConnell tried a similarly heavy-handed tactic in August when he demanded senators skip their traditional summer recess and stay in session. Republicans openly conceded that the move would make it harder for Democratic senators because they wouldn’t be able to hit the campaign trail in late summer.
“There’s no way around it. If [Democrats] are not able to go home at a time in which they’re campaigning, it’s more of a challenge for them,” Sen. Mike Rounds (S-SD) explained at the time.
But by all indications, the mandatory August session did nothing to slow Democratic election momentum. Today, there’s even more reason to believe that Democrats have a real chance of taking control of the Senate in November.
“Losing the Senate was once an unthinkable prospect as the GOP looked to gain seats in the midterms, and with the party’s grip on the House in serious jeopardy, the chamber had been seen as the last line of defense,” the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
“I hope when the smoke clears we’ll still have control of the Senate,” McConnell said this week, not exactly sounding confident about his party’s November prospects.
Meanwhile, an October session could be bad news for Republican incumbents such as Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Both are facing increasingly competitive races back home and likely don’t want to be stuck in Washington, D.C., weeks before Election Day.
The GOP is getting increasingly worried about Cruz’s prospects in particular. “Republicans are so fearful about losing the seat that they are diverting resources to Texas,” the Post noted.
Republicans fear the midterms will be a referendum on Trump. Democrats are hoping for the same.