by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democrats spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars in a futile bid to pick up longshot Senate seats in Kentucky, South Carolina, and Texas.
The campaigns of Kentucky’s Amy McGrath, South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison, and Texas’s M.J. Hegar burned through nearly $200 million, and outside groups backing them spent an additional $60 million boosting the three candidates.
The figure dwarfs the total amount spent in the 1996 presidential race—Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, and Ross Perot combined to spend less than $240 million. The influx of cash, however, failed to woo voters, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), and Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) each won their races by double digits.
The money could have been put to use in North Carolina.
Democrats’ decision to throw money at longshot races could mean more good news for McConnell, who has won conservatives’ praise in recent weeks for his efforts on Capitol Hill.
When it comes to achieving confirmation of conservative judges, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has good reason to be “tooting [his] own horn.”
The Kentucky Republican admitted that’s what he was doing when telling the New York Times on Tuesday that the judicial confirmations in a polarized Washington, especially those of three Supreme Court justices in less than four years, were more “consequential” than the accomplishments of any other majority leader. If he isn’t right about that, he certainly is close.
The raw numbers don’t lie, and they tell much of the story. Indeed, the more numbers one peruses, the more impressive McConnell’s record looks. Through Oct. 27 of a first term, no president has secured more judicial confirmations than the 220 confirmed for Donald Trump under McConnell’s Senate leadership. (George W. Bush and Bill Clinton tie for second at 203.) More impressive still, 53 of those appointees were for the crucial federal courts of appeal. That’s 11 and 18 more, or 20-30% more, than the next two highest, the elder and younger Bushes.