McConnell in January 2009
|Senate Majority Leader|
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Harry Reid|
United States Senator
January 3, 1985
Serving with Rand Paul
|Preceded by||Walter Huddleston|
|Senate Minority Leader|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Harry Reid|
|Succeeded by||Harry Reid|
|Senate Majority Whip|
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Harry Reid|
|Succeeded by||Dick Durbin|
Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr.
February 20, 1942
Sheffield, Alabama, U.S.
Sherrill Redmon (1968–1993)
Elaine Chao (1993–present)
University of Louisville
University of Kentucky
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1967|
Addison Mitchell "Mitch" McConnell, Jr. (born February 20, 1942) is the senior United States Senator from Kentucky. A member of the Republican Party, he has been the Majority Leader of the Senate since January 3, 2015. He is the 15th Senate Republican Leader and the second Kentuckian to lead his party in the Senate. He is also the longest-serving U.S. senator in Kentucky history.
- Early life, education, and military service 1
- Early career 2
U.S. Senate 3
- Elections 3.1
- Leadership 3.2
- Tenure 3.3
- Committee assignments 3.4
- Electoral history 4
- Personal life 5
- In popular culture 6
- References 7
- Further reading 8
- External links 9
Early life, education, and military service
Mitch McConnell was born on February 20, 1942 in
Judge-Executive of Jefferson County
|Party political offices|
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Kentucky
1984, 1990, 1996, 2002, 2008, 2014
Chairperson of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
Senate Republican Whip
Senate Republican Leader
|United States Senate|
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Kentucky
Served alongside: Wendell Ford, Jim Bunning, Rand Paul
Chairperson of the Senate Ethics Committee
Chairperson of the Senate Rules Committee
Senate Minority Whip
Senate Minority Leader
Senate Majority Leader
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
United States Senators by seniority
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Senator Mitch McConnell official U.S. Senate site
- Mitch McConnell for Senate
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Mitch McConnell at DMOZ
- Recommended Reading on Mitch McConnell, Joshua Green, The Atlantic, January 5, 2011
- "Biography – About – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell". Mcconnell.senate.gov. January 3, 1985. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- "McConnell becomes longest-serving senator from Kentucky". LaRue County (Kentucky) Herald Tribune. January 14, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
- July 16, 2000"The Tuscaloosa NewsFact of the Week", "". News.google.com. July 16, 2000. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- "Addison Mitchell 'Mitch' McConnell". Washingtontimes.com. Archived from the original on July 26, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- March 13, 2001"Times DailyTwo Senators receive keys to the city of Sheffield" "". News.google.com. March 13, 2001. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- Kornacki, Steve (October 27, 2011) Why all of West Virginia now hates Mitch McConnell, Salon.com
- Cheves, John (October 22, 2008). "McConnell received honorable discharge from military". Bluegrass Politics. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
- Weiser, Carl (September 23, 2002). "Military service rare on delegation". Cincinnati Inquirer. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
- Martin, Jonathan (August 27, 2014). "Mitch McConnell Is Headed Down the Stretch". New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- "Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary" (PDF). loc.gov. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
- Mark R. Chellgren (November 7, 1984). "Dee upset by McConnell in close race". Williamson Daily News. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
- "McConnell Attacks Huddleston – Part 1 video". Youtube.com. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- "McConnell Attacks Huddleston – Part 2 video". Youtube.com. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- "Mitch McConnell Likes The Corny Wordplay With His Political Opponents' Last Names". The Huffington Post. July 11, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
- "National Journal Almanac 2008". Nationaljournal.com. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- Killough, Ashley (July 24, 2013). "Conservative challenger takes on top Senate Republican". CNN.
- Ostermeier, Eric (May 20, 2014). "McConnell Records Weakest Kentucky US Senate Incumbent Primary Victory in 75+ Years". Smart Politics.
- Zengerle, Jason (November 2013). "Get Mitch". Politico. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- Isquith, Elias (September 23, 2013). "The disappearing Mitch McConnell". Salon. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- Atlas, Terry (June 5, 1985). "Senators Act To Pinch South Africa's Economy". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
- Rogers, David (March 26, 2014). "Mitch McConnell's foreign policy evolution". Politico. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- Farrier, Jasmine (September 1, 2010). Congressional Ambivalence: The Political Burdens of Constitutional Authority. University Press of Kentucky.
- Steinhauser, Paul (September 10, 2013). "McConnell only party leader in Congress to oppose Syria resolution". CNN. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
- "S. 2183 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- Cox, Ramsey (March 27, 2014). "Senate passes bill to fund Ukraine broadcasting". The Hill.
- Roth, Zachary; Cliff Schecter (October 2006). "Meet the New Boss: Quietly, Senate Republicans have already chosen Mitch McConnell as their next leader—because Congress just isn't partisan enough". Washington Monthly. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- McConnnell, Mitch (May 3, 2001). "Speech to the House Appropriations Committee on campaign finance reform".
- Robert Costa (June 19, 2012). "Mitch McConnell and Free Speech". Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Lauren Windsor (August 27, 2014). Caught on Tape: What Mitch McConnell Complained About to a Roomful of Billionaires (Exclusive). The Nation. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- Jaffe, Alexandra. "Report links McConnell campaign donations to legislative work", The Hill, Washington DC, January 3, 2013. Retrieved on February 1, 2013.
- Walters, Kurt. "Cashing In On Obstruction: How Mitch McConnell's Abuse of the Filibuster Benefits His Big Money Donors", Public Campaign Action Fund Blog, Washington, D.C., January 2, 2013. Retrieved on February 1, 2013.
- Storm, Nick (Jan 3, 2013). "Campaign finance group says McConnell has cashed in by blocking bills". Pure Politics. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Sen. McConnell called obstructionist by critics in Kentucky", Associated Press, Louisville, January 4, 2013. Retrieved on February 1, 2013. Archived September 29, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- Bash, Dana (March 29, 2000). "Flag desecration amendment fails in Senate". CNN.
- "S.1370 (107th)". GovTrack.us. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- Kapur, Sahil (May 27, 2014). "McConnell's Bizarre New Position On Obamacare". talkingpointsmemo.com (TPM Media LLC.). Retrieved May 28, 2014.
- "Kentucky Life Science Council Recognizes Senator Mitch McConnell with Inaugural Life Science Champion Award". Medical News. October 3, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
- "S.1546 (108th)". GovTrack.us. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- "Senators support legislation addressing gas prices in U.S.". Cedartown Standard. July 1, 2008. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
- "S.3098 (110th)". GovTrack.us. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- "When did McConnell say he wanted to make Obama a 'one-term president'?". Washington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- "S.3773 (111th)". GovTrack.us. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- Conason, Joe (November 16, 2010). "Why Mitch McConnell is worse than Charles Rangel". Salon. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- "S.J. Res. 23 (112th)". GovTrack.us. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- Ryan, Josiah (June 29, 2011). "McConnell calls balanced-budget amendment to floor". The Hill. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
- "Dem unity forces McConnell to filibuster his own proposal". washingtonpost.com. December 6, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
- Fischer, Sara (February 15, 2014). """Mitch McConnell on allowing debt-ceiling vote: "I had to do what's best for the country. cnn.com (CNN). Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- Gerth, Joseph (February 13, 2014). "McConnell sought grant but mocked Obama biofuel plan". usatoday.com (The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal). Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- Benen, Steve (February 14, 2014). "Mitch McConnell's algae problem". msnbc.com. NBCUniversal Media LLC. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- Ramsey Cox; Alexander Bolton (April 9, 2014). "Senate GOP blocks paycheck bill". The Hill. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
- OHLEMACHER, STEPHEN (July 23, 2014). "Senate Advances Bill To End Tax Breaks For Companies That Outsource". Huffington Post. AP. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
- Wartman, Scott (October 3, 2015). "McConnell talks Brent Spence, heroin, Ebola".
- Gerth, Joseph (October 3, 2014). "'"McConnell on climate change: 'Not a scientist.
- Davenport, Coral (October 30, 2014). "Why Republicans Keep Telling Everyone They're Not Scientists".
- Morrison, Curtis. "Audio from Mitch McConnell robocall: 'I'm doing everything in my power to protect your 2nd amendment rights'", Insider Louisville, Louisville, January 23, 2013. Retrieved on February 1, 2013.
- "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress – 1st Session". Legislation & Records.
- "Senate Roll Call: Iraq Resolution". Washington Post. October 11, 2002. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- "McConnell: Troop Surge In Iraq Showing Early Signs Of Success". WYMT. Associated Press. March 5, 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- Raju, Manu (February 3, 2010). "Mitch McConnell attacks President Obama's terrorism policies". Politico. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- Bloomberg, June 22, 2006, Republicans to Use Votes to Cast Democrats as Weak on Terrorism
- "Editorial: McConnell's true colors". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. November 11, 2010. Archived from the original on July 26, 2013.
- "CNN Political Ticker". Cnn.com. May 13, 2007. Archived from the original on May 30, 2007. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
- Mitch McConnell (April 21, 2009). "Republican Leader McConnell's April 21, 2009 floor speech".
- "Mitch McConnell: Campaign Finance/Money – Summary – Career". Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- I'm Not Doing The bidding of Large Banks. CBS News, April 15, 2010
- "McConnell to Big Banks' Rescue" at the Wayback Machine (archived April 18, 2010). Lexington Herald-Leader. April 15, 2010.
- Loftsu, Tom (28 October 2015). "Updated: McConnell's Biggest Donors". Courier-Journal. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- John E. Kleber, Kentucky Bicentennial Commission, Thomas Dionsius Clark, and Lowell H. Harrison, "The Kentucky Encyclopedia", University Press of Kentucky, 1992, page 592, accessdate July 30, 2010
- "Board | youth community | service award". Jefferson Awards.org. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- John David Dyche, Republican Leader: A Political Biography of Senator Mitch McConnell, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2009 p. 124 
- Ann Southworth, Lawyers of the right: professionalizing the conservative coalition, Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2008, p. 30 
- "The Long Rifleman Louisville-Thruston Chapter" (PDF) 4 (2). Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- "Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), 2010". OpenSecrets.org. December 3, 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
- Lee Fang (October 30, 2014). "Mitch McConnell's Freighted Ties to a Shadowy Shipping Company". The Nation.
- Bresnahan, John (June 12, 2009). "Members' fortunes see steep declines". Politico. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
McConnell is often the subject of political satire on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart due to McConnell's calm demeanor and voice. Jon Stewart's impressions of McConnell have led to an illicit edit to his WorldHeritage article claiming that McConnell is a turtle.
In popular culture
In 2010, the OpenSecrets website ranked McConnell, because of net household worth, one of the wealthiest members of the U.S. Senate at the time, because of gifts given to him and his wife in 2008 from his father-in-law James S.C. Chao after the death of his mother-in-law.
 on March 1, 2013.Sons of the American Revolution McConnell was inducted as a member of the  In 1997, he founded the
McConnell is on the Board of Selectors of Jefferson Awards for Public Service.
McConnell is a Baptist. His first wife was Sherrill Redmon, from whom he was later divorced; they have three daughters. His second wife, whom he married in 1993, is George W. Bush.
|Year||% McConnell||Opponent||Party affiliation||% of vote||County-by-county map|
|1984||49.9%||Walter Huddleston (incumbent)||Democratic||49.5%|
|1990||52.2%||Harvey I. Sloane||Democratic||47.8%|
|2002||64.7%||Lois Combs Weinberg||Democratic||35.3%|
|2014||56.2%||Alison Lundergan Grimes||Democratic||40.7%|
Elections are shown with a map depicting county-by-county information. McConnell is shown in red and Democratic opponents shown in blue.
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Defense
- Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
- Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
- Committee on Rules and Administration
- Select Committee on Intelligence (Ex officio)
In April 2010, while Congress was considering financial reform legislation, a reporter asked McConnell if he was "doing the bidding of the large banks." McConnell has received more money in donations from the "Finance, Insurance and Real Estate" sector than any other sector according to the  In McConnell's home state of Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader ran an editorial saying: "We have read that the Republicans have a plan for financial reform, but McConnell isn't talking up any solutions, just trashing the other side's ideas with no respect for the truth." According to one tally, McConnell's largest donor from the period from Jan. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2015 was Bob McNair, contributing $1,502,500.
From 2003 to 2008, the list of McConnell's top 20 donors included five financial/investment firms: 
On April 21, 2009, McConnell delivered a speech to the Senate criticizing President Obama's plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, and questioned the additional 81 million dollar White House request for funds to transfer prisoners to the United States.
Regarding the failure of the Iraqi government to make reforms, McConnell said the following on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: "The Iraqi government is a huge disappointment. Republicans overwhelmingly feel disappointed about the Iraqi government. I read just this week that a significant number of the Iraqi parliament want to vote to ask us to leave. I want to assure you, Wolf, if they vote to ask us to leave, we'll be glad to comply with their request."
In 2006, McConnell publicly criticized Senate Democrats for urging that troops be brought back from Iraq. According to Bush's Decision Points memoir, however, McConnell was privately urging the then President to "bring some troops home from Iraq" to lessen the political risks. McConnell's hometown paper, the Louisville Courier-Journal, in an editorial titled "McConnell's True Colors", criticized McConnell for his actions and asked him to "explain why the fortunes of the Republican Party are of greater importance than the safety of the United States."
In October 2002, McConnell voted for the Iraq Resolution, which authorized military action against Iraq. McConnell supported the Iraq War troop surge of 2007. In 2010, McConnell "accused the White House of being more concerned about a messaging strategy than prosecuting a war against terrorism."
- Iraq War
On the weekend of January 19–21, 2013, the McConnell for Senate campaign emailed and robo-called gun-rights supporters telling them that "President Obama and his team are doing everything in their power to restrict your constitutional right to keep and bear arms." McConnell also said, "I'm doing everything in my power to protect your 2nd Amendment rights." On April 17, 2013, McConnell voted against expanding background checks for gun purchases.
- Gun rights
McConnell expressed skepticism that climate change is a problem, telling the Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board in 2014, "I'm not a scientist, I am interested in protecting Kentucky's economy, I'm interested in having low cost electricity." 
In July 2014, McConnell expressed opposition to a U.S. Senate bill that would limit the practice of corporate inversion by U.S. corporations seeking to limit U.S. tax liability.
In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress). It was a bill that "punishes employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information, puts the justification burden on employers as to why someone is paid less and allows workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination." McConnell said that he opposed the legislation because it would "line the pockets of trial lawyers" not help women.
After two intersessions to get federal grants for Alltech, whose president T. Pearse Lyons made subsequent campaign contributions to McConnell, to build a plant in Kentucky for producing ethanol from algae, corncobs, and switchgrass, McConnell criticized President Obama in 2012 for twice mentioning biofuel production from algae in a speech touting his "all-of-the-above" energy policy.
In December 2012, McConnell called for a vote on giving the president unilateral authority to raise the federal debt ceiling. When Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) called for an up or down vote, McConnell objected to the vote and ended up filibustering it himself. In 2014, McConnell voted to help break Ted Cruz's filibuster attempt against a debt limit increase and then against the bill itself.
In June 2011, McConnell introduced a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment. The amendment would require two-thirds votes in Congress to increase taxes or for federal spending to exceed the current year's tax receipts or 18% of the prior year's GDP. The amendment specifies situations when these requirements would be waived.
In 2010, McConnell requested earmarks for the defense contractor BAE Systems while the company was under investigation by the Department of Justice for alleged bribery of foreign officials.
In September 2010, McConnell sponsored the Tax Hike Prevention Act of 2010. The bill would have permanently extended the tax relief provisions of 2001 and 2003 and provided permanent Alternative Minimum Tax and estate tax relief.
In an interview with National Journal magazine published October 23, 2010, McConnell explained that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Asked whether this meant "endless, or at least frequent, confrontation with the president," McConnell clarified that "if [Obama is] willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues, it's not inappropriate for us to do business with him."
In June 2008, McConnell introduced the Alternative Minimum Tax and Extenders Tax Relief Act of 2008. The bill was intended to limit the impact of the Alternative Minimum Tax.
McConnell was the sponsor of the Gas Price Reduction Act of 2008. The bill, which did not pass, would have allowed states to engage in increased offshore and domestic oil exploration in an effort to curb rising gas prices.
In July 2003, McConnell sponsored the Small Business Liability Reform Act of 2003. The bill would protect small businesses from litigation excesses and limit the liability of non-manufacturer product sellers.
McConnell received the Kentucky Life Science Champion Awards for his work in promoting innovation in the life science sector.
McConnell voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act) in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. In 2014, McConnell repeated his call for the full repeal of Obamacare and said that Kentucky should be allowed to keep the state's health insurance exchange website, Kynect, or set up a similar system.
In August 2001, McConnell introduced the Common Sense Medical Malpractice Reform Act of 2001. The bill would require that a health care liability action must be initiated within two years, non-economic damages may not exceed $250,000, and punitive damages may only be awarded in specified situations.
- Health policy
McConnell opposed the Flag Desecration Amendment in 2000. According to McConnell: "We must curb this reflexive practice of attempting to cure each and every political and social ill of our nation by tampering with the Constitution. The Constitution of this country was not a rough draft. It was not a rough draft and we should not treat it as such." McConnell offered an amendment to the measure that would have made flag desecration a statutory crime, illegal without amending the Constitution.
- Flag Desecration Amendment
On January 2, 2013, the Public Campaign Action Fund, a liberal nonprofit group that backs stronger campaign finance regulation, released a report highlighting eight instances from McConnell's political career in which a vote or a blocked vote (filibuster), coincided with an influx of campaign contributions to McConnell's campaign. Progress Kentucky, a SuperPAC focused on defeating McConnell in 2014, hosted a press conference in front of the Senator's Louisville office to highlight the report's findings.
McConnell argues that campaign finance regulations reduce participation in political campaigns and protect incumbents from competition. He spearheaded the movement against the 
- Campaign finance
On March 27, 2014, McConnell introduced the United States International Programming to Ukraine and Neighboring Regions bill, which would provide additional funding and instructions to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in response to the 2014 Crimea crisis.
In August 2007, McConnell introduced the Protect America Act of 2007, which allowed the National Security Agency to monitor telephone and electronic communications of suspected terrorists outside the United States without obtaining a warrant. McConnell was the only party leader in Congress to oppose the resolution that would authorize military strikes against Syria in September 2013, citing a lack of national security risk.
After winning election to the U.S. Senate in 1984, McConnell backed anti-apartheid legislation with Chris Dodd. McConnell went on to engineer new IMF funding to "faithfully protect aid to Egypt and Israel," and "promote free elections and better treatment of Muslim refugees" in Myanmar, Cambodia and Macedonia. According to March 2014 article in Politico, "McConnell was a 'go-to guy' for presidents of both parties seeking foreign aid", but he has lost some of his idealism and evolved to be more wary of foreign assistance.
- Foreign policy
According to The New York Times, in his early years as a politician in Kentucky, McConnell was "something of a centrist". In later years, McConnell followed his party and his state in becoming more conservative, changing his position on a number of issues, including abandoning collective-bargaining rights and minimum-wage increases that he previously supported, and abandoning pork barrel projects he once delivered to the state of Kentucky. According to a profile in Politico, "While most politicians desperately want to be liked, McConnell has relished—and cultivated—his reputation as a villain." The Politico profile also noted "For most of Obama's presidency, McConnell has been the face of Republican obstructionism." According to Salon, "Despite McConnell's reputation as the man who said his No. 1 goal was to stop President Obama from winning a second term, it's been McConnell at the table when the big deals—be they over threatened government shutdowns, debt defaults or fiscal cliffs—have been finalized."
During the 1998 and 2000 election cycles, McConnell was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Republicans maintained control of the Senate in both. He was first elected as Majority Whip in the 108th Congress and unanimously re-elected on November 17, 2004. Senator Bill Frist, the Majority Leader, did not seek re-election in the 2006 elections. In November 2006, after Republicans lost control of the Senate, they elected McConnell to replace Frist as Minority Leader. After Republicans took control of the Senate following the 2014 Senate elections, McConnell became the Senate Majority Leader.
In 2014, McConnell faced Louisville businessman Matt Bevin in the Republican primary. The 60.2% won by McConnell was the lowest voter support for a Kentucky U.S. Senator in a primary by either party since 1938. He easily defeated Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election, 56.2%–40.7%, 15.5 percentage points – one of his largest margins of victory, second only to his 2002 margin.
In 2002, he was re-elected against Lois Combs Weinberg by 29.4%, the largest majority by a Republican candidate in Kentucky history.
In 1996, he defeated Steve Beshear by 12.6%, even as Bill Clinton narrowly carried the state. In keeping with a tradition of humorous and effective television ads in his campaigns, McConnell's campaign ran television ads that warned voters to not "Get BeSheared" and included images of sheep being sheared.
In 1984, McConnell ran for the U.S. Senate against two-term Democratic incumbent Walter Dee Huddleston. The election race wasn't decided until the last returns came in, and McConnell won by a thin margin—only 5,200 votes out of more than 1.8 million votes cast, just over 0.4%. McConnell was the only Republican Senate challenger to win that year, despite Ronald Reagan's landslide victory in the presidential election. Part of McConnell's success came from a series of television campaign spots called "Where's Dee", which featured a group of bloodhounds trying to find Huddleston, implying that Huddleston's attendance record in the Senate was less than stellar. His campaign bumper stickers and television ads asked voters to "Switch to Mitch".
McConnell began interning for Senator John Sherman Cooper (R-Ky.) in 1964, and McConnell's time with Cooper inspired McConnell to run for the Senate himself. Later, McConnell was an assistant to Senator Marlow Cook (R-Ky.) and was a Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Gerald R. Ford, where he worked alongside future Justice Antonin Scalia. In 1977, McConnell was elected the Jefferson County Judge/Executive, the former top political office in Jefferson County, Kentucky. He was re-elected in 1981.
McConnell enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve at Louisville, Kentucky during his last year of law school. He received an Honorable Discharge for medical reasons (optic neuritis) after five weeks at Fort Knox.
When he was a teenager his family arrived in Louisville where he attended duPont Manual High School. He graduated with honors from the University of Louisville with a B.A. in history in 1964. McConnell was president of the Student Council of the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He has maintained strong ties to his alma mater and "remains a rabid fan of its sports teams." Three years later, McConnell graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he was president of the Student Bar Association. McConnell is of Scottish and Irish descent.