Cornyn: Tea Party candidates who lost were GOP's best candidates

The head of Senate Republicans' campaign efforts contended Thursday that the GOP wouldn't have fared better had some of its preferred candidates survived their primaries and become the party's nominee for the general election.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), dismissed the notion that some of the insurgent GOP candidates to have lost on Tuesday — many of whom were aligned with the Tea Party candidate — weren't Republicans' best possible candidate in those races.

"I think the process is such that, of course, you're not going to have a chance to win the general if you can't win the primary," Cornyn said in a post-election conference call. "So that sort of resolves the issue of who the strongest candidate was."

Several of the Republicans who'd won primaries against candidates Cornyn and the NRSC had convinced to run ended up losing their general election on Tuesday. Those candidates include Linda McMahon in Connecticut, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado — the latter three of whom are associated with the Tea Party.

Two candidates who won their primaries — Rand Paul in Kentucky and Mike Lee in Utah —ended up winning their general election.

But Cornyn dismissed the notion that Republicans might have won if not for their candidates in some of the states.

"I don't think it really made that much of a difference," he said.

Whether or not Cornyn will do battle with Tea Party candidates again in 2012 is up in the air. The Texas Republican said he hasn't spoken to colleagues yet about serving a second term as NRSC chairman.

"The choice of who is going to be the NRSC chairman is left to the members of the Senate Republican Conference," he said. "I haven't made a decision there, and I have not talked to any of my colleagues about that possibility."