I have plenty of negative things to say about Mitch McConnell, but he does know two things:
how to count votes and which way the wind is blowing.
Transcript from last night's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, panelists John Nichols and Ruth Marcus:
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Devoted viewers of The Weather Channel know that a Category 3 hurricane has winds up to 129 miles per hour. A Category 4 goes up to 156 miles an hour. And a Category 5 is anything and everything above 156 miles per hour. Now, those are all deadly, destructive winds depending on how you get hit by them, from category 3 to 5.
Category 5 for sure, 4 for sure. And that is how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now describing what Republicans are facing in this year's election. He told his paper in his home state of Kentucky. This is going to be a challenging election year. We know the wind is going to be in our face. We don't know whether it's going to be a category 3, 4 or 5. So he just knows it's going to be deadly. And he doesn't know how deadly. The Republican leader of the House of Representatives is so afraid of how big the blue wave is going to be, that Paul Ryan hasn't even announced that he will campaign for re-election for his own congressional seat in Wisconsin, which last night was the scene of the latest demonstration of the power of the big, blue wave.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is leading his Republican members into their re-election campaigns without announcing whether he himself is going to run for re-election to his seat in Wisconsin.
This is late on the calendar for a Speaker of the House to leave his members guessing of whether he is confident of his own election in his home district.
And Paul Ryan has more to be afraid of today than yesterday after last night's victory by Rebecca Dalla. She will join us to tell us how she did it... and it was not a squeaker. She beat her conservative opponent by 12 points. Last night Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker tweeted "Tonight's results show we are at risk of a blue wave in Wisconsin." Then he had to throw in a little speech about "the far left is driven by anger and hatred, we must counter it with optimism and organization. Let's share our positive story with voters." They did share last night and lost. It's the first time a Democrat won an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 23 years and what did Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House from Wisconsin tell his troops today to bolster their confidence?
Not one word from Wisconsin's own Paul Ryan about this major upset for Republicans in Wisconsin last night. Joining our discussion now, John Nichols, and Ruth Marcus. John, you're joining us from Wisconsin tonight?
JOHN NICHOLS: I am joining you from Madison, Wisconsin.
LAWRENCE: So tell us what happened in Wisconsin. This is, by the way, the second time the Republicans have seen an upset in an election in Wisconsin and the second time that Scott Walker has warned Republicans about a blue wave.
NICHOLS: Sure. What happened last night was something quite remarkable. As you noted in this officially nonpartisan race for state Supreme Court, you saw the candidate who was backed by unions and progressives, and essentially Democrats beat the candidate who was backed by Scott Walker, the NRA and a lot of business interests. It was a clearly defined race. The interesting thing in Wisconsin is, over the last quarter century really, the Republicans, the conservatives, have figured out how to win these races. They've gotten very, very good at winning not just open seat races but occasionally beating an incumbent who's more progressive. So for Scott Walker, this was supposed to be an easy one.
Instead, last night was devastating. It wasn't that she won by 12 points, as you pointed out, it was that she won in a campaign that he clearly established herself as a more progressive thinker than her opponent and she took on the NRA. She objected to her opponent's strong embrace of the NRA. And she won -- we'll see how the final counting goes but she won roughly half the counties in the state. That means she won rural counties. She won about two dozen counties that voted for Trump.
LAWRENCE: Ruth Marcus, what do you make of the Speaker of the House being silent about a big election outcome in Wisconsin?
RUTH MARCUS: If you don't have anything useful to say to your troops, why say anything at all?