WASHINGTON: Senate Republicans reckoned Wednesday with an insurgent’s win in Alabama that poses clear threats to their own grip on power and the leadership of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Nearly $10 million spent by a McConnell-backed super PAC couldn’t save incumbent GOP Sen. Luther Strange, who had been endorsed by President Donald Trump as well. It came the same day that McConnell, short of votes, pulled the plug on the latest and possibly final GOP effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

Coming together, the events raised questions about McConnell’s leadership within the Senate and without, casting doubt on his reputation as a seasoned political operator and a nearly unbeatable vote-counter on Capitol Hill.

“I’d hate to think about where we would be without Sen. McConnell’s efforts. But I think we’ll learn from it, and we’ll adjust,” McConnell’s No. 2, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said of the victory of rabble-rousing former jurist Roy Moore, known for hanging the Ten Commandments in his courtroom in defiance of federal court orders. “We’re all listening and watching very closely and trying to understand the message that’s being sent.”

To some conservative campaign operatives, there was little question about that message.

“Alabama was a rejection of Mitch McConnell and the entire Republican establishment that he represents,” said Andy Surabian, senior adviser to the pro-Trump group Great America Alliance, which spent more than $150,000 on Moore’s behalf.

“Everyone is going to be under the microscope. That doesn’t mean everyone is going to have a serious primary challenger,” he said.

McConnell allies strongly disputed claims that he was a drag on Strange, arguing that despite low approval ratings that come with being a party leader in Congress, there was scant real evidence that opposition to the Kentucky Republican was a motivating factor for voters in a race where local issues, including the former governor’s corruption scandal, played a major role. But one Republican operative working on 2018 Senate races, who requested anonymity to discuss internal GOP dynamics, said the party is increasingly worried about the impact of McConnell’s unpopularity among GOP voters on establishment primary candidates, particularly after another health care failure.