McConnell, Eyeing 20-Week Abortion Ban, Wins Re-Election in Kentucky

A Republican-dominated Senate with McConnell as majority leader could spell serious trouble for reproductive rights.

Sen. McConnell delivering his victory speech after the 2014 midterm election in Kansas. C-SPAN

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is projected to hold his seat in Kentucky, handily defeating upstart Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In a surprising result given the closeness of the race leading up to Election Day, major networks and the Associated Press called the race for McConnell just minutes after the final polls in western Kentucky closed.

McConnell, the current minority leader, is likely to move up to the majority leader position if Republicans gain enough seats on Tuesday to take over the U.S. Senate.

A Republican-controlled Senate with McConnell as majority leader could spell serious trouble for reproductive rights.

McConnell has been vocal in his support for a national 20-week abortion ban, which he is likely to try to bring to the floor for a vote.

Democrats would probably filibuster such a bill, and President Obama would almost certainly veto it. But McConnell could bring it up multiple times to try to draw media attention and move the needle on public opinion, or he could even insert it into a must-pass, simple-majority budget bill.

“If you look at the Republican record in the House, we can expect that Senate Republicans will try to throw poison pills of all kinds into appropriations bills,” a senior Democratic leadership aide told Rewire last week. “If they take this course, they’d be setting up the possibility of yet another Republican government shutdown.”

Grimes ran a fierce campaign against McConnell that was close in the polls until the end. After initially giving up on Grimes, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) saw the polls swinging back in her favor and decided to go back on the air with ads supporting her.

Many observers thought Grimes had a chance to pull off the biggest upset in recent political memory by unseating the long-serving party leader just as Republicans seemed poised to take control of the Senate.