Last night, before the unexpected fall that landed him in the hospital with a concussion, Mitch McConnell walked into Washington’s Waldorf Astoria with the hope of some G.O.P. restitution. For two tumultuous years under the leadership of his nemesis, Rick Scott, the National Republican Senatorial Committee had been at odds with McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund. Over time, the two men grew to despise one another in the way that powerful wealthy men often do: each wouldn’t give the other what they wanted, which pissed off their counterpart.
McConnell’s team grew miffed that Scott refused to recruit and support the most winnable candidates, at least according to their calculations, in certain elections. Meanwhile, Scott, who is rich and single-minded and unafraid to sneeze on the brass ring (and rode to power via the Tea Party), had long felt slighted by the establishment crowd like some country club arriviste.
Anyway, that’s old news as Scott has been replaced by Steve Daines, the new N.R.S.C. chairman, who has been trying to straddle the often un-straddleable, performing modern G.O.P. triangulation by appeasing Trump and the establishment-types, alike, in order to recruit electable candidates who can tap into both constituencies. In reality, it’s the very sort of McConnell-esque realpolitik that may be required for these times on the right. According to an attendee, McConnell reflected on “Playing the hand they were dealt last cycle, but creating their own hand this cycle,” a thinly veiled dig at Scott and Trump.