Republicans Will Focus On Four States In 2024, Mitch McConnell Says

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Republicans will focus on four key Senate races in a bid to flip the upper chamber in 2024, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Monday.

The GOP will seek to flip Senate seats in West Virginia, Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, the minority leader told CNN. Former President Donald Trump won the first three states by double-digits in 2020, while Pennsylvania is a perennial swing state. Incumbent Democratic Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania have already committed to re-election, runs while Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is still mulling a bid for a third term.

“I think it’s important to go into this cycle understanding once again how hard it is to beat the incumbents, no incumbent lost last year,” McConnell said. “Having said that, if you were looking for a good map, this is a good map.”

McConnell emphasized the importance of candidate recruitment, noting West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s decision to run for the upper chamber. During the 2022 midterms, then-National Republican Senatorial Committee chief Rick Scott of Florida declined to get involved in primaries. McConnell later bemoaned “candidate quality” as Republicans lost races in swing states Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

“What we do know about West Virginia is it’s very, very red, and we have an extremely popular incumbent governor who’s announced for the Senate. And we’re going to go all out to win it,” McConnell said. “We do have the possibility of screwing this up and that gets back to candidate recruitment. I think that we lost Georgia, Arizona and New Hampshire because we didn’t have competitive candidates.”

Justice is slated to go up against Rep. Alex Mooney in a primary that has already turned nasty. Mooney called Justice a “Big RINO” before the governor announced, alluding to his 2017 party switch. The free market group Club for Growth’s political action committee is supporting Mooney, and has already begun criticizing Justice. (RELATED: The GOP Is Already Tangling Over Who Should Run In 2024)

A similar pattern is playing out in Montana, where the Club has offered its endorsement to Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale as he considers a second bid for the upper chamber. Businessman Tim Sheehy and state Attorney General Austin Knudsen are also mulling runs.

“We’re going to compete in Montana and win in November,” McConnell said, while declining to comment on specific candidates.  “What I care about in November is winning and having an ‘R’ by your name, and I think it is way too early to start assessing various candidacies that may or may not materialize.”

The minority leader added that the GOP will adopt a wait-and-see approach to other states such as Nevada before deciding which candidates to back.