In 19 days, McConnell will be the most powerful GOP leader.

It took four years and an election defeat. But someone with real power inside the Republican Party is standing up to and swatting back President Trump: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Why it matters: This is a preview of the power struggle that will define the Republican Party in 2021.
You saw this with McConnell acknowledging Joe Biden as President-elect.

  • You saw this with McConnell blocking Trump’s push to raise stimulus checks to $2,000, which would have split Senate Republicans.
  • And you’re seeing it now with his effort to curtail futile resistance by the GOP to congressional certification of Biden’s victory.

Yes, but: Until now, McConnell’s strategy was buffeted by the chaos Trump created. Now, the Senate leader whose autobiography is called “The Long Game” is finally able to set the party’s course.

  • “McConnell is trying to reclaim the role he had in 2009 leader of the opposition to a new Democratic president,” said a Republican operative familiar with the leader’s thinking.

What he’s thinking: Depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s Georgia runoffs, McConnell will have to find a way to protect or regain a Senate majority, in the face of Trump and his operatives promoting candidates who could win primaries but might well lose.

  • During Trump’s presidency, Axios’ Margaret Talev points out, McConnell gained from an alliance that yielded 200+ lifetime judgeships including three Supreme Court justices. As ex-president, Trump carries more liability. 

The bottom line: Beginning 19 days from now, McConnell is the most powerful Republican in the land.