GOP Senate Candidate Refuses to Say If She’ll Back McConnell

Land distances herself from GOP leader a day before fundraiser.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks up to speak to the media after attending the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol July 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. Senate Republicans gathered at the luncheon to discuss their agenda.
National Journal
Alex Roarty
Nov. 18, 2013, 8:41 a.m.

Story was up­dated at 4:30 p.m.

A day be­fore she plans to at­tend a fun­draiser hos­ted by Mitch Mc­Con­nell, Michigan GOP Sen­ate can­did­ate Terri Lynn Land de­clined to say on Monday wheth­er she would sup­port Mc­Con­nell as GOP lead­er in 2015 if he wins reelec­tion next year.

Ap­pear­ing on the talk-ra­dio pro­gram Michigan’s Big Show, Land de­murred when asked dir­ectly if she would vote for him as either Sen­ate minor­ity or ma­jor­ity lead­er.

“I think you’re get­ting a little ahead here,” Land said. “First we have to run a race here in Michigan. Once we do that, ob­vi­ously those things come after that. But right now, we’re just run­ning to win here in Michigan.”

Land, the Wol­ver­ine State’s pre­sumed GOP nom­in­ee, is at­tend­ing a fun­draiser at the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee hos­ted by Mc­Con­nell and a co­ter­ie of oth­er GOP sen­at­ors on Tues­day. But dur­ing her in­ter­view, she re­peatedly sought to dis­as­so­ci­ate her­self from the Re­pub­lic­an lead­er.

Asked if Mc­Con­nell was sup­port­ing her cam­paign, Land re­spon­ded, “I’m get­ting sup­port from a lot of sen­at­ors. I’ve got sup­port from Sen­at­or Rand Paul, from Ru­bio, from Sen­at­or Ru­bio, from a lot of sen­at­ors across this coun­try and also from Con­gress­folks here in Michigan too.”

Her non-an­swer came days after a top of­fi­cial at the Sen­ate Con­ser­vat­ives Fund, while not com­ment­ing dir­ectly on Land’s cam­paign, warned Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates that par­ti­cip­at­ing in fun­draisers with Mc­Con­nell would risk blow­back from con­ser­vat­ives. The ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of that group, Matt Hoskins, made the com­ment in an in­ter­view with Na­tion­al Journ­al. The SCF and the NR­SC are in a bit­ter con­flict, after the Re­pub­lic­an cam­paign com­mit­tee an­nounced it would no longer of­fer con­tracts to a con­sult­ing firm that worked for the con­ser­vat­ive out­side group.

In a state­ment re­leased later on Monday, Land said: “I am ap­pre­ci­at­ive of everything Sen­at­or Mc­Con­nell has done in wel­com­ing my cam­paign and I am stay­ing laser fo­cused on my race here in Michigan.”

Land emerged as the GOP’s go-to can­did­ate in Michigan after a slew of oth­er po­ten­tial GOP con­tenders passed on a cam­paign, and after she pos­ted a sur­pris­ingly strong fun­drais­ing re­port in the third quarter of this year. She will likely face Demo­crat­ic Rep. Gary Peters in the state’s open-seat race to suc­ceed re­tir­ing Sen. Carl Lev­in — a race Demo­crats are favored to win but has tightened since the dis­astrous Obama­care rol­lout.

Land’s com­ments ap­pear cal­ib­rated to fend off any po­ten­tial con­ser­vat­ive chal­lenge to her cam­paign. But in the same in­ter­view, she also backed off her pre­vi­ous calls to de­fund Obama­care, in­sist­ing the law be “fixed” in­stead of re­pealed.

“After you pass bills, you have to go back and do fixes,” she said. “That’s not un­usu­al. That’s something I’ve done in the past, and that’s something we need to do here.”

Asked dir­ectly wheth­er she no longer sup­por­ted re­peal­ing Obama­care, Land re­spon­ded that her pre­vi­ous sup­port for de­fund­ing Obama­care “was a way to get the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing.”

“We’re past this now,” she said. “We need to now fix this.”

Up­date: An aide to the Land cam­paign says the can­did­ate was re­fer­ring to her sup­port of the Up­ton bill in the House when she said she wanted to “fix” Obama­care.

“I sup­por­ted de­fund­ing the Obama­care law when that was an op­tion,” she wrote in a Face­book note pos­ted earli­er today. “I sup­port re­peal­ing the Obama­care law if we can get it re­pealed. Pres­id­ent Obama and Con­gress­man Peters prom­ised that Michig­anders could keep their in­sur­ance and their prom­ise has been broken. I sup­port the Up­ton bill to fix Obama­care in the short term if that is what it takes to stop 225,000 people in Michigan from los­ing their in­sur­ance. Wash­ing­ton is broken and we need lead­ers who are ready to make the tough de­cisions.”

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