Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, once viewed as the wiliest politician in Washington, is on an epic losing streak:

His candidate, incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, got crushed by 10 points in last night's Republican primary in Alabama. So McConnell's narrow majority will now include someone he doesn't respect, and who doesn't like him.

  • More incumbents are now likely to face primaries, including Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, making it vastly more expensive to preserve the majority.
  • Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, yesterday announced his retirement in "another blow to the Republican establishment" that will likely touch off "a highly contested, ideologically driven primary," per the WashPost.
  • Health care repeal died again yesterday, this time without a vote. (N.Y. Times lead headline: "REPUBLICANS DROP MEASURE TO UNDO HEALTH CARE LAW.")
  • McConnell is crossways with a president of his own party, who is fed up with what he considers the Senate leader's archaic style.
  • A poll back home in Kentucky last month gave McConnell an 18% favorability rating, making him one of the nation's least popular politicians.

A longtime McConnell adviser tells us last night's result "shows his colleagues he's willing to go to the mat for a guy who had only been there six months, despite taking on a huge amount of personal attacks."

  • "He has a strong point to make to holdouts within his conference that Luther Strange paid the price for their failure to play as a team on health care."
  • "No question the road will get tougher before it gets easier, but McConnell does better in adversity. He won't spend any time wringing his hands. He'll be focused on tax reform like nothing happened last night."

Be smart: The Republican establishment is so weak that even when it has Trump on its side, as it did in Alabama, it can't beat the Trumpers.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

20 Republican former U.S. attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump "a threat to the rule of law"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Twenty Republican former U.S. Attorneys on Tuesday endorsed Joe Biden while saying that "President Trump's leadership is a threat to rule of law" in the U.S., the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: In the letter, the former prosecutors criticize Trump's use of the Department of Justice, saying the president expects the DOJ to "to serve his personal and political interests."

  • "He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision-making," the letter says.
Updated 50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.