Jan 28, 2020

Exclusive: New group to focus on McConnell attacks

McConnell during a break in the impeachment trial. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Amid the impeachment trial, a new independent expenditure group called Fix Our Senate will launch on Tuesday to go after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, organizers tell Axios.

Why it matters: As a national political figure, McConnell is both extremely powerful and highly unpopular, with a favorability rating of 29.8% in the latest average of polls tracked by Real Clear Politics.

What they're saying: "McConnell is already the least popular politician in America — now, we’re going to shine a light on McConnell and every ally who supports him," the group's director, Joshua Karp, a Democratic strategist and communications consultant, tells us.

Details: The group plans to conduct and disseminate research on McConnell and his record and leadership strategies to share with activists and surrogates and shape opinion.

  • It will argue that McConnell is disproportionately responsible for wealth inequality, rising drug prices, conservative judicial confirmations, hyper-partisanship, legislative gridlock and the likely acquittal of President Trump in the Senate trial.
  • The group has ties to SEIU, Demand Justice, Indivisible, Protect Our Care and For Our Future.

Between the lines: Fix Our Senate will be established as a 501(c)(4) under the U.S. tax code. That means donors' identities may stay shielded. The group declined to share its budget.

The other side: McConnell adviser Josh Holmes told Axios that the group is "welcome to take a number and get in line" in order "to fleece donors into underwriting yet another expedition in search the left’s white whale."

Be smart: Polling shows Trump is more popular than McConnell. The new effort appears aimed less at trying to defeat McConnell in Kentucky and more at asking U.S. voters to broadly associate Republican candidates and policies with negative feelings about McConnell.

Go deeper

McConnell says he would fill Supreme Court vacancy if it opened this year

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News Thursday that he would fill a Supreme Court vacancy if it opened up this year, despite it being an election year.

Why it matters: Antonin Scalia died on this day in 2016. McConnell refused to hold confirmation hearings or a vote that year on President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, arguing that that the Senate and presidency belonged to different parties and that the vacancy shouldn't be filled until the next president is inaugurated.

Roberts declines to read impeachment question from Rand Paul

Chief Justice John Roberts again declined Thursday to read a question from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during the question-and-answer portion of President Trump's Senate impeachment trial.

The big picture: Paul attempted to include the alleged name of the Ukraine whistleblower in his questions on Wednesday, CNN reported. When beginning Thursday's proceedings, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised Roberts a "level of consideration" in reading the questions out loud — an apparent dig at Paul.

Trump impeachment trial recap, day 10: Vote to call witnesses fails

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives the thumbs up as he leaves the Senate chamber after adjourning for the night during the impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 31, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer / Staff/Getty Images

The Senate voted Friday to move forward with Trump's impeachment trial without calling for additional witnesses or evidence, an expected result after two key Republicans decided to vote against it.

The state of play: The Senate voted to reconvene Monday at 11 a.m. ET with a final vote Wednesday at 4 p.m., after the Senate goes on recess for the weekend. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's last-ditch effort to get witnesses — forcing amendments to subpoena John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and other officials — were shot down.