McConnell Fights Off Leadership Challenge

Senate minority leader won 37-10 against Rick Scott
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2022 4:41 PM CST
Updated Nov 16, 2022 12:41 PM CST
Scott Is Challenging McConnell for Senate Leadership
Sen. Rick Scott arrives to speak before former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in support of the campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio on Nov. 6, 2022, in Miami.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
UPDATE Nov 16, 2022 12:41 PM CST

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell easily defeated a leadership challenge from Sen. Rick Scott Wednesday. Insiders tell Axios that McConnell won 37 votes to Scott's 10, while a motion to delay the vote introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz was defeated 32-16. McConnell, who has led Senate Republicans since 2007, is now on course to become the longest-serving party leader in Senate history, per Politico. McConnell's leadership was questioned by Scott, chairman of Senate Republicans' campaign arm, and several other senators after disappointing results in the midterm elections left Democrats still in control of the chamber.

Nov 15, 2022 4:41 PM CST

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's hopes of becoming majority leader again were dashed by the results of the midterm elections—and he's now facing a challenge for Senate GOP leadership. Sen. Rick Scott declared a challenge to McConnell's leadership in a closed-door Senate Republican Conference meeting Tuesday, the Hill reports. In a letter to colleagues, the Florida senator said it was time for the "Senate Republican Conference to be far more bold and resolute that we have been in the past." He added, "We must start saying what we are for, not just what we are against."

Scott said one of the reasons he is running is because Republicans compromised with Democrats too much in the last Congress, handing them legislative victories that gave them a boost in the midterms, the AP reports. "Some believe we don’t hold the executive branch accountable," he wrote. "Some believe we constantly give in to the Democrats and have no backbone." Scott was among several senators who called for a delay to a leadership vote scheduled for Wednesday, arguing that Senate Republicans need to have a "serious discussion" of improving their chances in the 2024 election.

McConnell has led Senate Republicans since 2007 and this is the first leadership challenge he has faced, Politico reports. After Tuesday's meeting, he said he there had been a "rather lengthy and fulsome discussion" of the election and the way forward for Republicans, and he was confident of victory. "I think it’s pretty obvious we may or may not be voting tomorrow, but I think the outcome is pretty clear, I want to repeat again: I have the votes," he said, per the Washington Post. "I will be elected. The only issue is whether we do it sooner or later. And I think we’ll probably have another discussion about that tomorrow." (Read more Mitch McConnell stories.)

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