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McConnell expresses private optimism that GOP will win Senate

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed cautious optimism in closed-door remarks Monday to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that the GOP can regain control of the Senate, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: McConnell has publicly downplayed expectations for winning almost all, with a prediction in mid-August that the home is much more likely compared to the Senate to improve hands. His private confidence reflects some newly found hope among Republicans that their political prospects have improved.

The picture as a whole: National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has long expressed confidence in the party’s candidates, a few of whom have already been criticized by mainstream Republicans to be too flawed or extreme to compete in tight races.

  • Scott told donors on the weekend in Sea Island, Georgia, he expects to win 52 seats in November and that he’s aiming even higher.
  • Democrats have already been uniformly upbeat about their prospects all summer, with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) eyeing 52 seats from his Harley Davidson.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has put his likelihood of retaining almost all at 60%, in accordance with Punchbowl News.

Driving the news headlines: In a 45-minute question-and-answer session at the chamber, McConnell paired his optimism about winning the Senate with a stark warning about whats on the line in the election.

  • Democrats desire to make D.C. and Puerto Rico into states with full voting representation in the Senate and intend to gut the filibuster should they win more seats, McConnell warned.
  • He explained he wants the election to be contested on inflation, the southern border, and crime, claiming that Democrats desire to deflect and concentrate on other things.
  • McConnell also said he expects the election to be close, with a 50/50 Senate reflecting a 50/50 country that remains starkly divided.

What they’re saying: “We are able to confirm Leader McConnell today addressed chamber business leaders from in the united states at our headquarters,” said a chamber spokesperson. “Its no real surprise he received a solid and warm reception.

  • A spokesman for McConnell declined to comment.

Between your lines: The chamber gave $3 million to the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund super PAC for the Pennsylvania Senate race earlier this month, as Axios first reported.

  • Chamber president and CEO Suzanne Clark praised McConnell at Monday’s event to be a “partner and ally” to the business enterprise community and called him “a staunch defender of the values most of us share.”
  • She also noted that McConnell understands “personnel is policy” and that each of them been employed by to rebel against some candidates at regulatory agencies.

The intrigue: Some House Republican leaders are openly hostile to the chamber and so are helping to midwife a fresh pro-business group, called the American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce, alternatively.

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said he won’t even meet the chamber if he becomes speaker next year.
  • The Intercept reported Monday that when they get back almost all, House Republicans intend to investigate the chamber over its embrace of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) criteria for businesses.
  • McConnell is going for a different approach and staying nearer to the chamber, using his remarks to stress the significance of free trade agreements and downplay the emergence of populism in his party.

What we’re watching: Clark spent some time working to maintain a detailed relationship with McConnell and was sure to be within April once the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce presented McConnell its Chamber MVP Award.

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