How Todd Young Held The Line For Senate Republicans

Office of Senator Todd Young, Wikimedia Commons

As bleary-eyed pundits and pollsters sorted through the wreckage of conventional wisdom that was the 2020 Election in the wee hours this week, U.S. Sen. Todd Young took a victory lap.

Tapped by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee, essentially the Senate campaign arm’s fundraiser-in-chief, Young will have raised over $275 million this cycle, dwarfing the previous record of $151 million, according to a source familiar.

It has been a good few weeks to be the low-key Hoosier pol, who attended the University of London’s Institute of United States Studies, where he wrote his master’s thesis on the economic history of Midwestern agriculture. And Young—whom you may have heard was a Marine—has put together an impressive list of conservative accomplishments during his years-long rise from backbencher member of the U.S. House of Representatives to briefing national reporters in the Senate stakeout every Tuesday afternoon. He was a key player in the confirmation of fellow Hoosier Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Whether it’s upsetting Democratic Senate scion Evan Bayh in 2016 or defending the Senate majority, Young has fashioned himself into a quiet political giant slayer.

In an exclusive post-election interview, Young talked about the Republican Party’s big night, how the nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett may have spiked turnout, the president’s tweets on vote counting, and whether he would run for re-election in 2022.

Election night was big for you and your party.

It was a really big night for the country, for the state of Indiana, and for the Republican Party. We certainly over-performed many of the expectations that were popularly being circulated, and frankly many of the expectations of some people that are on our own team. Intensity was incredibly high as we approached the final weeks of the campaign. Our turnout operations were incredibly effective and we executed a plan laid out two years ago. I was just very proud of our candidates and the campaigns they ran and the folks at the Senatorial committee who helped us get it done.

What role do you think that Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation played in bringing home Republican voters in the final weeks of the campaign?

Nothing motivates and unifies Republicans like a Supreme Court battle. We saw that in 2016, we saw that in 2018. We saw that in the closing weeks of this campaign. I do think that it was one of several significant factors that we saw move the needle in battleground races and in the final weeks. One thing it did was it highlighted the conservative leadership of Joni Ernst in Iowa, or Thom Tillis in North Carolina, and of course chairman Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, since they’re members of the Judiciary Committee and found themselves in contested races. I could throw into that mix John Cornyn, though going into election night we had an even greater measure of confidence that he was going to be successful.

Aside from that, it demonstrated very concrete terms why it is important for Republicans to have a majority in the United States Senate. We’ve been speaking in the abstract for roughly two years about the importance of carrying, and beating back any structural changes to our longstanding system of checks and balances like elimination of minority rights within the Senate by changing the 60 vote threshold to bring bills to the floor for a simple up or down vote like packing of the Supreme Court for political purposes, like the addition of new states to the Union, again in order to further one’s political objectives.

On the Democratic challenger side, this put many Democrats in a box because they’d avoided questions in red states about their decision related to packing the Supreme Court and been able to avoid the question because it wasn’t in the front line of a compelling news stories until Amy Coney Barrett was before the Senate Judiciary Committee. They would awkwardly answer or try and avoid answering that question about packing the Supreme Court. They also had a difficult time answering whether they would support someone like Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Most Americans over the course of the hearings, we saw in poll numbers, were supportive of her confirmation, and they of course, the Democrats didn’t want to break their base from the mainstream independents and Republicans that they needed to win over in order to be successful.

The President has tweeted that “they’re finding Biden votes all over the place in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. He said that’s “so bad for our country.” What’s your reaction to that, and do you think all the votes should be counted?”

My reaction is that all the votes should be counted. We of course need to make sure that only individuals who are legally authorized to vote are voting and have cast proper votes. Assuming those qualifications are met, every single American vote, Republican, Democrat, independent and so forth needs to be counted.

There’s still a lot up in the air of course as votes are counted. What’s your sense on how this election so far has set up a lame-duck vote on a COVID relief package?

Goodness, I hope we can pass one without further delay, meaning within the next couple of weeks. There’re American people, there are Hoosiers who fear eviction. The small businesses continue to close at a rapid clip. States need additional resources so that they can fund their local needs as well as continue to pay for the necessary medical supplies as we open up our economy and schools and figure out how to resume some semblance of normalcy, progressively.

For all those reasons and more we need to get this done. The American people, again, irrespective of political affiliation want us to pass a stimulus package. I do think Nancy Pelosi was wedded to this notion that failure to pass a package would be injurious to the President’s reelection and perhaps by extension to Republicans that control the Senate. She clearly was wrong about the political implications of this, and may in fact have backfired on her. She should not have been thinking about politics as it relates to emergency situation. Instead, we should act and act boldly but responsibly as we did when we came together to pass the first Cares Act.

What do you make of the tone right now of the Republican party on a national level? For example, the youngest member of congress, when he was elected on Tuesday, Madison Cawthorn tweeted, “Cry more, lib.”

I didn’t hear that particular example. I’m going to take your word for it.

More generally, yes, about the tone in Washington and the tone within my own party, which is something I have a measure of ownership over. I think we need to be more respectful and loving towards one another, neighbor to neighbor and public servant to public servant. I think we can still have principled, respectful, and sometimes even heated debates about issues that the American people expect us to resolve. We need to never forget that each of us is trying to realize the interests of our own constituents and ensure that we’re a more perfect union.

We can’t do that if we’re demonizing one another and consistently making ad hominem attacks towards one another. Does each of us fall short from time to time of this ideal, seeing as we’re dealing often times with polarizing and challenging issues and grows frustrated by this often times unwieldy system the framers put together for us? Yes. We grow frustrated. That’s no excuse to make a habit of disrespectful, distasteful behavior.

Do you plan to run for reelection in 2022?

I’ve got a little time to reflect on it, but you’ll know my intentions I think in the coming weeks, we’ll make that known. I’ve been really privileged to represent the people of Indiana for a term as their United States Senator. I still have some work to do to finish out this term. We’ll soon be pivoting towards the future, myself, some of my closest advisors and we’ll make known our intentions. It’s no secret that I love public service, that I deeply love the people of Indiana, and I think we have some significant work to do to ensure that every single Hoosier and every American, for that regard, has an opportunity for a fair shot at success as they would define success.