WASHINGTON: US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky won reelection Tuesday, ensuring that the most powerful Republican in Congress will remain in the chamber for another six years. McConnell was leading his Democratic challenger, former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, by 19 percentage points with more than 70 percent of precincts reporting, and Fox News and The New York Times called the race.
“You’ve given me the honor of a lifetime,” McConnell said in a victory speech in Kentucky. “I’ll always be grateful. I will never let you down.” The Republican power broker, 78, has been an important ally on Capitol Hill for President Donald Trump, helping him confirm a record number of federal judges over the past four years.
He has overseen the contentious process for getting three of Trump’s picks on to the US Supreme Court, and also managed to hold nearly the entire 53-member Republican majority together early this year to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial. But McConnell has been quietly critical of the president’s coronavirus pandemic response. In early October he said he had been avoiding the White House since August 6 over concerns that Trump and other officials had not taken sufficient Covid-19 precautions.
The perpetually unruffled Republican lawmaker has served in the Senate since 1985 and as the majority leader since 2007, a record tenure for the position. It is a remarkable run for a lawmaker with one of the lowest approval ratings in the United States, and all the more impressive given the tumult in the GOP since Trump took the reins. But McConnell’s power-especially behind the scenes-has been undeniable. He lacks Trump’s telegenic charisma and bravado. But he is even-tempered, does not shoot from the hip, and is a top political tactician, his colleagues have said.
McConnell has often outmaneuvered his Democratic rivals, most notably in 2016 when he denied Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama the chance to fill the Supreme Court seat held by Antonin Scalia, the conservative justice who died in February of that year. Four years later he was at the center of another high court drama. When justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon, died in September, he made sure her replacement Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed before the election, despite fiery protests from Democrats.- AFP