Chuck Schumer told party donors during recent calls that the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the fact that Cal Cunningham "couldn’t keep his zipper up” crushed Democrats' chances of regaining the Senate, sources with direct knowledge of the conversations tell Axios.
Why it matters: Democrats are hoping for a 50-50 split by winning two upcoming special elections in Georgia. But their best chance for an outright Senate majority ended when Cunningham lost in North Carolina and Sen. Susan Collins won in Maine.
- During a recent donor call, the minority leader lamented being unable to successfully recruit Stacey Abrams to run for a Senate seat in Georgia, one of the sources said. He also said he regretted successfully recruiting Cunningham.
- Schumer has made the zipper comment on numerous calls, the source added.
- One source familiar with the private discussions told Axios that, when discussing the Georgia Senate races, Schumer acknowledged he tried to recruit Abrams but says she insisted Raphael Warnock was the right choice.
The backstory: Many thought North Carolina could go blue before news of Cunningham's affair surfaced. Ginsburg's death, meanwhile, let Collins reshape the debate about filling Supreme Court vacancies, Schumer said.
- The Maine Republican was chastened for voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh after he faced charges of sexual assault.
- When Ginsburg died, Collins appealed to Democrats, independents and undecideds by opposing filling her seat until voters picked the next president.
- The Senate still plowed ahead with confirming conservative Amy Coney Barrett, but Collins got political cover from her no vote. She went on to defeat Democrat Sara Gideon.