Rick Scott Pivots, Will Not Oppose McConnell for GOP Senate Leader Sen. Rick Scott (Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 11 November 2022 09:14 AM EST
Republicans' disappointing showing in the midterms changed Sen. Rick Scott's plans about challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for party leader in the chamber, Politico reported.
Scott, chair of the Senate Republican campaign arm, had cut an announcement video declaring his intentions to replace McConnell, Politico reported.
However, Scott's plans changed Wednesday morning, the outlet noted, after it became clear Republicans might not capture the majority and there was to be a Senate runoff in Georgia.
Considered a long shot to defeat the longtime GOP Senate leader, Scott's real aim was to speak up for grassroots conservatives, and appease former President Donald Trump, a McConnell critic.
"Lots of people have urged him [Scott] to consider running but his focus is entirely on the ongoing counts in Arizona and Nevada and raising money for the Georgia runoff," Scott's spokesman, Chris Hartline, told Politico.
McConnell confidant Josh Holmes countered with: "If this is true, most of our voters will be very disappointed to learn that while they were focused on winning elections, their campaign chairman was plotting an ill-fated career advancement."
Scott and McConnell have been at odds, especially after the leader criticized the "candidate quality" of this year's GOP Senate contenders.
The Florida senator's hope was that Republican victories would win a chamber majority and humble McConnell. That appears unlikely, with Blake Masters trailing in a yet-to-be-called race in Arizona, and Herschel Walker headed to a runoff in Georgia.
The fact Scott had recorded a video makes clear his intended audience went beyond his 49 GOP Senate colleagues and extended to Republican voters, who polls show do not like McConnell.
"He's decided he doesn't want to be an inside player in the Senate, so he had nothing to lose," one establishment-aligned GOP senator told Politico about Scott's aborted plans. "It wouldn't have mattered if he got five, 10, or 15 votes – he was showing off to the base."
Still, Scott widely is thought to have presidential ambitions. He's a wealthy former hospital executive who was governor before being elected to the Senate.
But he lacks the charisma of some of the other potential GOP candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, his successor in Tallahassee. Scott and DeSantis are said to have a "cool" relationship.