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McConnell Puts PA on GOP’s ’24 Top Four Target List, Touts McCormick

Congrats, Pennsylvania — You made Mitch McConnell’s final four.

In an interview with CNN, the Senate’s GOP leader laid out what he believes is the most likely path for Republicans to regain control, and it runs through four states: Montana, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

McConnell and many GOP pundits say Republicans are on track in West Virginia, where popular Gov. Jim Justice has announced he plans to run for the seat currently held by Sen. Joe Manchin. The two-term Democrat has not said if he will run for reelection next year in a state Trump carried by 40 points in 2020.

The other states are less settled, particularly Pennsylvania, where Republican strategists believe Dave McCormick would have the best chance to stop Democrat Sen. Bob Casey from winning a record fourth term. But McCormick may have to get past state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who polls show remains popular with GOP primary voters despite his crushing defeat in last year’s gubernatorial race against now-Gov. Josh Shapiro.

According to CNN, McConnell and the NRSC “are expected to go all-out for McCormick, whom the GOP leader called a ‘high-quality candidate.’”

And what about Mastriano? “I think everybody is entitled to run. I’m confident the vast majority of people who meet Dave McCormick will be fine with him,” McConnell said.

“The Senate GOP Leader understands what nearly all Republican leaders here know,” Republican strategist Christopher Nicholas told DVJournal. “Only Dave McCormick can give Casey a run for his money in 2024.”

There has been little polling about a GOP primary, but the available data give Mastriano a lead. Pennsylvania GOP pros say the passion for Mastriano in the MAGA section of the party remains strong. At the same time, losing the Senate seat in 2022, particularly to John Fetterman, a left-of-center candidate with significant health issues, sent a shockwave through the state GOP, one source told DVJournal.

“There is no ‘MAGA’ magic,” the source said. “If they really don’t care about winning [the general election], then we just have to find a way to beat them.”

Republicans may need to pull out all the stops in Pennsylvania. In Montana, another state Trump carried big, popular incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) has already said he will run again, giving his party its best chance of holding the seat. And while Ohio has been trending red for more than a decade, incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) is a populist Democrat in the mold of Sen. Bernie Sanders. He may be particularly tough to beat, as well.

So even though Democrats have to defend more than twice as many seats as Republicans next year (23 to 11), McConnell laughed when asked if he was confident about the GOP’s chances.

“No, no – I’m not,” McConnell said. “I just spent 10 minutes explaining to you how we could screw this up, and we’re working very hard to not let that happen.”

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TOOMEY: Farewell To The Senate (Part One)

Editor’s note: These are the farewell remarks to the Senate from Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.-R), who is retiring from the U.S. Senate after serving for 12 years.  

Madam President, I rise for the customary farewell address. I would like to begin by thanking our colleague and our leader, Mitch McConnell, for his very, very kind words. I appreciate that, Leader McConnell. I would also like to say that I appreciate the confidence you have repeatedly placed in me. Your recollections have brought back many memories.

One was the (deficit reduction) super-committee. I served on the super-committee, but what most of you probably don’t know is that Leader McConnell had great reservations about putting me on the super-committee. Oh, yes, he grilled me for what seemed like hours over several occasions.

Here is why: He grilled me because he wanted an outcome. And his concern was, will this be firebrand from the Club for Growth be willing to compromise, be willing to reach an agreement that couldn’t possibly be exactly what he wanted?

What was most important—as I recall from our conversations—to Leader McConnell was that the people on that supercommittee, at least the ones that he could appoint, be interested in a successful outcome?

I would suggest that one of the things that is underappreciated about Leader McConnell is how relentlessly focused he is on outcomes. It is hard to know because he doesn’t tell us that much about what he is thinking, if you haven’t noticed, but I am pretty sure that that is a big driver.

So, Leader McConnell, I appreciate your leadership. I appreciate the confidence you placed in me. I appreciate our friendship and terrific working relationship.

For the many thanks that I have to give, I will start with my family. Starting with my parents, they did a great job raising six kids, I will tell you that much. I have to really stress my gratitudefor my wife Kris. Most of you probably don’t know, but Kris had a very successful and promising career as a consultant, which she put aside so that I could pursue mine. So, in many ways, I think she had a tougher job because she was home raising three kids. And she has done a phenomenal job of that.

Last month, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, and I think I will spend the next 25 years letting her know how much I appreciate her. Our kids are here. Bridget is 22; Patrick is 21; and Duncan is 121⁄2.

You know, growing up in a political family has its disadvantages. You would be surprised to learn, but it seems like about every 6 years or so people ran some really nasty ads about me on television. They did. The kids see ads, obviously. Also, I missed more of their activities than I would have liked to because I had to be here, but they were always terrifically understanding about that. I am sure looking forward to spending more time with each of them.

For those of us who serve on this body, we all know that staffs are the unsung heroes of our successes. I have been luckier than anybody deserves to be with the teams that I have had working for me over the years—18 years in public office over a 24-year pe- riod; 6 in the House and 12 in the Senate. I have just had wonderful, wonderful folks—mostly younger people, as weknow our staffs tend to be, but just terrifically capable, hard-working, bright people.

My State staff, for instance—Leader McConnell was kind enough to point out—the reputation that we had. I don’t deserve the credit for that. They are the ones who worked so hard on behalf of our constituents.

From Philly to Erie and the other 65 counties and enumerable little boroughs and townships, every day they approached constituent service with enthusiasm and professionalism that was amazing. I mean, little boroughs requesting federal grants and businesses struggling with federal bureaucracies and regulations, veterans stymied by the VA or the Social Security Administration—it didn’t matter what it was, my staff was on the ball getting the job done and doing it with a great attitude.

My personal office here in DC, both when I was in the House and in the Senate, also are just terrific, terrific people.

You know, I represent a very big state that is relatively close to DC so we have a huge number of constituents who want to come down and make their case, as they should. Most of those meetings end up getting taken by our staff, as you know. They have just done such a great job.

Our leg and comms shops are always working so hard to get the policy exactly right and get our message right; the administrative staff that kept things running smoothly so I never had to worry about anything.

I have to say a special thanks to the Banking Committee staff. I have been on the Banking Committee since I got here, but only the last 2 years have I been the ranking member on the committee. I honestly think we accomplished about as much as you can when you are in the minority, and so much of it is because it is a great team.

We focused on all the areas of jurisdiction of the committee: financial services, monetary policy, housing, transit. We did a lot of important work on the nominees to important regulatory posts. I think we did a good job of providing the oversight of powerful regulators, including encouraging them to stay in their lanes. I will always be grateful to them.

By the way, many of them are still here, and they will be here to the bitter end. We are still processing requests for the omni.

I have got to say a big thanks to the campaign teams that I have had over the years. You know, my first House primary was a very improbable success.

I know most of you are thinking any election that I won was an improbable success. I get that. But I can tell you for sure, it wouldn’t have happened without a terrifically talented and dedicated campaign staff, some of whom became part of the official staff, others have chosen to stay on the political side.

As for all of you guys, my colleagues, I have teamed up with every Republican at some point over the years, and most of my Democratic colleagues also at one time or another, and it has been a real honor and it has been a privilege to work with each of you. You folks have been terrific allies, even when it is on an item that is a rare item of agreement.

Speaking of which, let me say a word about my colleague Bob Casey. You know, I don’t think you could ask for a more collegial, thoughtful colleague than the fellow that shares the senatorial responsibilities with me for Pennsylvania. The fact is, we canceled each other’s vote out almost every time—that is a true fact—but we have also worked together when we could.

One of the areas where we had just tremendous success is filling vacancies on the federal bench in Pennsylvania.

In fact, Senator Casey, and according to the last count that I have, you and I working together these last 12 years got 33 federal judges confirmed to the bench in Pennsylvania.

Now, that happens because we have great staff work happening; we have volunteers who do a wonderful job of vetting candidates across our commonwealth; but it also happens because Bob and I wanted to get this job done so that the people of Pennsylvania could have justice. And I think that only two—only New York and California have had more judges confirmed in this time.

So, Senator Casey, I appreciate the great working relationship we have had.