Rick Scott launches his Trump-backed challenge of Mitch McConnell to become Senate GOP leader
On Tuesday, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said that he would challenge Mitch McConnell to be the next leader of Senate Republicans. This was in response to former President Donald Trump’s long-standing call to have McConnell removed.
McConnell is facing his first challenger to the leadership post. After Scott’s announcement, McConnell made few brief remarks to reporters.
McConnell stated, “I want to do it again, I have all the votes, and I will be elected.”
Scott’s challenge comes while former President Donald Trump, along with some Senate Republicans, blame McConnell on a disappointing midterm election. The Democrats retained the Senate majority by flipping one seat in Pennsylvania and protecting Democratic-held seats at close races in Arizona, Nevada. They will retain their majority, regardless of how the December Georgia Senate race ends. However, Democrats would have more power if Sen. Raphael Warnock was reelected.
On Tuesday, the GOP’s weekly policy luncheon, which was the first since legislators learned that Democrats would continue to control the Senate through the end President Joe Biden’s current term, lasted for hours. The senators who came out early said that things were in flux and “very cordial”.
Scott stated that he explained his reasons for challenging McConnell to Senate Republicans in Dear Colleague, but it was simplified for Capitol Hill reporters.
“I don’t like the status quo. Scott said that the GOP should have an option. Scott spoke to the media scrum, which waited for hours to hear from Scott about what GOP leaders had to say during their post-midterms extended airing of grievances.
Missouri senator Josh Hawley, who said to reporters that he would vote for Scott as minority leader, summarized the “candid” conversation he had with his colleagues about where things are at present.
“Sen. Scott is not happy with Mitch’s approach in this election or for the past couple of years. He made it clear. “Sen. McConnell also criticized Sen. Scott’s management of NRSC,” Hawley stated about the blame game that consumed much of Tuesday afternoon.
Ted Cruz had harsh words for McConnell earlier in the day.
Cruz stated on his podcast, “I believe that we need a leader who actually listens and is willing to fight for the cause, doesn’t give up easily.”
McConnell was even more scathing, accusing McConnell that he only supports candidates who support the Kentuckian.
Cruz stated that Mitchell would prefer to be a leader than have a Republican majority. “If there is a Republican capable of winning who doesn’t want to support Mitch,” Cruz said.
McConnell’s allies reacted furiously to the news that Scott was challenging him. McConnell’s and Scott’s teams have been pursuing each other in the days following the election.
“The chairman challenging McConnell over failed campaigns,” Josh Holmes, McConnell’s chief of staff, wrote on Twitter along with the meme “We’re all trying to locate the guy who did that.”
Steven Law, who is a pro-McConnell superPAC, attacked Curt Anderson (a long-time Scott political adviser) for accusing them of not doing enough to help Herschel Walker, former Heisman Trophy winner, in another exchange.
Anderson’s message was partially answered by Law, who wrote “Don’t worry little buddy, we’re used to covering you”,
Scott was the leader of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm and played an important role in shaping the party’s strategy. Scott is also currently a member of McConnell’s leadership team. They have clashed many times, including over Scott’s decision to present his own policy plan before the midterms.
Biden and other top Democrats have repeatedly criticized Republicans over the possibility of Social Security being up for a vote every 5 years. Scott’s plan required that all federal laws be repealed after five years. It did not allow for Medicare or Social Security exceptions.
Scott, unlike McConnell, did not want the GOP intervene aggressively in contested primaries. This led to Trump-backed challengers such as Dr. Mehmet O and Don Bolduc emerging from key races in Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire respectively.
McConnell won the Senate GOP’s previous elections easily. His fundraising skills and knowledge of managing the Senate’s floor are what make him a popular choice. Some of his coworkers are now more concerned that he is being led by someone who has no relationship with Trump. In the wake of the US Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021 and the twin losses in 2021 Georgia that gave the upper chamber to Democrats, the relationship between the two top Republicans crumbled.
Trump went so far as to call McConnell’s ex-Transport Secretary Elaine Chao his wife with the racist nickname “Coco Chow”
Scott, a rising star in Republican politics, is believed to have presidential aspirations. In 2018, he narrowly won the Senate seat.