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McConnell Warns Senate Control Could Be Unclear Until January

McConnell, right, is the Senate Minority Leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)
McConnell, right, is the Senate Minority Leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

BOWLING GREEN, Ky., — At the end of a full day of flying around the Bluegrass State, Sen. Mitch McConnell presented the state of play on the national landscape like a prognosticator instead of a pol who holds the title of Senate minority leader.  

“We think we have a good chance to take the Senate,” McConnell said of the Republicans’ prospects. “The suspense won’t last much longer. Hopefully we’ll find out tomorrow night instead of December or January, but there could be additional races beyond tomorrow night.”  

“There could be another election in Louisiana, and their could be another election in Georgia,” he said.  

In Georgia, a runoff between Republican David Perdue and and Democrat Michelle Nunn would run past the scheduled opening of the new Congress, which could make organizing the chamber nearly impossible if the result could determine which party is in charge.  

“I think it’s uncharted territory. Hopefully it will be decided tomorrow night, and we won’t have to worry about it,” McConnell said.

Paul stumped for McConnell. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

In either case, McConnell fully expects to maintain the role of Republican leader, brushing off a question about Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, being noncommittal about backing the Kentuckian.  

“No,” McConnell said succinctly when asked if Cruz not promising to support him for leader was a matter of concern. A Washington Post report  Sunday said the Texan vowed his backing.  

“I don’t think there’s any question who’s going to be the leader of the Republicans in the Senate. The only question is whether we’ll be in the majority or not,” McConnell said.  

Sen. Rand Paul, who calls this part of the state home, joined McConnell. Paul would not discuss Cruz, who is also seen as a potential presidential primary rivals in 2016.  

“I’m not going to comment on that, but I’m going to support McConnell,” Paul said.  

Ford speaks with Grimes, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes had a full slate of events, with both candidates crisscrossing time zones during the day Monday. While the available poll numbers clearly favor McConnell, Grimes kept up a breakneck schedule.  

At a stop at a labor union hall in Owensboro, Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Steven L. Beshear, who failed to knock off McConnell in 1996, remained upbeat about Grimes’ chances. He also noted the effect of the get-out-the-vote effort to boost Democratic turnout in local contests on the ballot. The Democrats hold a slim majority in the state House.  

“She has worked hard. She knows politics. It’s in her blood, and she’s going to be a great U.S. senator. You know, she’s going to run very well all across the state. It’s going to help our local candidates here,” Beshear told CQ Roll Call.  

Grimes saw a loud crowd of supporters at the Owensboro stop that included an ailing former Gov. Wendell H. Ford, who also served 24 years in the Senate, including almost the entirety of the 1990s as the chamber’s Democratic whip. Ford has been battling lung cancer.  

The man who succeeded Ford in the whip’s role? The same man who could yield control of the floor to McConnell if Republicans win a a net of six seats: the incumbent majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.  

Related: 6 Awesome Scenarios to Ponder Ahead of Election Results Why Senate Control May Not Be Known by Wednesday McConnell Eyes the Prize as Grimes Hopes for Grand Upset Final Rankings: The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

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