Some Republicans call for delaying Senate leadership election to challenge McConnell

Some Republicans call for delaying Senate leadership election to challenge McConnell


A group of Senate Republicans on Friday called for a postponement of the GOP leadership election after the party’s abysmal performance in the midterm elections, a move that poses a direct challenge to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky .).

Four senators – Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Lee of Utah – have called for postponing the vote, scheduled for Wednesday, in which McConnell was to be re-elected by secret ballot. Hawley suggested waiting until after the Dec. 6 Senate runoff in Georgia, a delay of several weeks.

“Holding leadership elections without hearing from the candidates how they will carry out their leadership duties and before knowing whether we will have a majority or even who all of our members are violates the most fundamental principles of a democratic process,” he said. said Scott, President. of the Republican National Senate Committee, and Lee wrote in a letter they circulated to their GOP colleagues, according to Politico.

Rubio wrote on Twitter Friday that the caucus needs someone “genuinely committed” to “fighting for the priorities and values ​​of working Americans (of all backgrounds) that have given us great victories in states like #Florida.”

Haley quickly approved the idea, writing on Twitter, “I don’t know why the Senate GOP would hold a leadership vote for the next Congress before this election is over.” Ballots are still being counted in Arizona and Nevada in addition to the runoff in Georgia.

Spokespersons for McConnell and Scott declined to comment. Lee’s emails and phone messages were not immediately returned.

The rebellion represents the most serious challenge to McConnell’s long tenure in the leadership and comes after Republicans spent millions of dollars losing Senate races in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, as well as saving GOP candidates. in Republican-leaning states like Ohio.

The Senate Leadership Fund PAC, closely associated with McConnell, has spent more than $230 million this cycle supporting Republicans in races across the country.

Yet the GOP faces the distinct prospect of not reclaiming a majority despite high pre-election hopes based on President Biden’s disapproval, record inflation and traditional ruling party losses. On Friday, Democrats grew increasingly optimistic that they would keep their seats in Arizona and Nevada – two states still counting votes – which would give them a majority.

How Trump, infighting and flawed candidates have limited Republican gains

The fallout from the GOP’s dismal performance has spilled over into the House, where Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who hopes to claim the presidency if the GOP wins the chamber, has faced mounting opposition.

Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted Friday that McCarthy is “not a president for these times.”

The tweet is a signal of Gaetz’s hardening opposition to McCarthy, as it becomes clear that if Republicans take control of the House, it will be by a narrow margin. That means McCarthy can’t afford to lose many of her colleagues’ votes.

Gaetz, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, previously told reporters that McCarthy was not his first choice.

Among other troubling signals for McCarthy, Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) said McCarthy “did nothing to win” the presidency, and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) said “no one currently has 218” votes – the number needed to win the presidency in the plenary chamber.

Additionally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Ralph Norman (RS.C.) declined to say whether they would support McCarthy. The Washington Post’s election model shows Republicans winning 220 seats, far fewer gains than the dozens expected by the GOP.

In his tweet, Gaetz cited several perceived shortcomings with McCarthy, including his telling other GOP leaders that Trump should step down immediately following the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

“Kevin is FLIGHT over FIGHT when the chips are down,” Gaetz said.

In the Senate, McConnell came under fire from some Republicans in August when he downplayed the party’s chances of gaining control, citing “candidate quality”.

Trump has also repeatedly mocked and criticized McConnell, while urging Republicans to oust the GOP leader. McConnell acknowledged Biden’s victory in December 2020, angering Trump, then blamed the former president for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Leadership elections had been set for Wednesday, and so far no senator has officially announced they will run against McConnell.

Votes for the leadership of the Republican Senate are done behind closed doors and by secret ballot. McConnell would only need a simple majority to win and he said he had the votes he needed. If he wins, McConnell will surpass Mike Mansfield’s record for longest term as a Senate party leader.

An adviser to Rubio, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the caucus’s internal dynamics, said Republicans were ‘frustrated’ with their lackluster midterm performance, after hoping to win back decisively the majority on Tuesday. Rubio, who won his race in Florida by a wide margin, wants Senate Republicans to find out “what’s happened in the world” before electing their next leaders, the person said.

Advisor Rubio did not rule out that Rubio himself would seek a leadership spot, but said the senator’s goal was to get Republicans to focus on their political priorities before deciding who should lead them.

In their letter, Scott and Lee also wrote, “We are all disappointed that a red wave did not materialize, and there are several reasons why it did not happen,” according to Politico. “We need to have serious discussions within our conference about why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024.”

In an interview published Friday, Hawley told RealClearPolitics, “I’m not going to support the current leadership of the party,” citing gun control and climate change legislation. “We surrendered when we should have fought.”

John Wagner contributed to this report.

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