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McConnell Gets Head Start on 2020 Re-Election

Senate majority leader makes first campaign hire in Kentucky

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has begun his re-election campaign for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has begun his re-election campaign for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, ever the political tactician, isn’t one to wait around for others to make the first move — his 2020 campaign is already underway.

Last week, the Kentucky Republican hired Shane Noem, a senior political aide, to begin laying the groundwork for his campaign, nearly 2½ years before Election Day, Pure Politics in Kentucky reported.

Noem worked on McConnell’s 2014 campaign before joining the official staff full-time in 2015 as a field representative in 25 counties in northern Kentucky.

For the 2020 push, he’ll have his hands in all 120 counties to help build McConnell’s “statewide, grassroots organization,” McConnell told Pure Politics.

McConnell campaign veteran Scott Jennings is “not surprised” his former boss is already staffing his next campaign only halfway through his term.

“Sen. McConnell always says you can start too late but never too early. This strikes me as a strong signal that McConnell is feeling bullish on the GOP in Kentucky and nationally,” Jennings said.

The sixth-term senator is already sitting on a mound of money in his personal campaign coffers, finishing the first filing quarter of 2018 with roughly $2.7 million cash on hand, per Federal Elections Commission data.

McConnell’s super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, was flush with nearly $15 million at the end of the last filing quarter. He will use that money strategically in the 2018 midterms.

McConnell, often seen as the figurehead of his party’s political establishment in Washington, could join President Donald Trump, the outsider businessman, on the 2020 ballot, a factor that could contribute to a more cohesive Republican message if the two leaders rally behind one another.

“Being on the ballot together in 2020 would allow them to make the joint case about peace, prosperity, and a rebalancing of the judiciary they’ve done,” Jennings said.

“I think Kentucky is happy with the Trump-McConnell agenda results,” he said.

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