Senate GOP Pushing Back on McConnell as Red Wave Dissolves
(Newsmax/"The Chris Salcedo Show")
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Saturday, 12 November 2022 11:09 AM EST
Several Senate Republicans pushing for next week's leadership elections to be delayed as dissatisfaction grows with current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the wake of disappointing midterm election results after the Kentucky Republican refused campaign financing for candidates who wouldn't pledge to elect him as the party's leader in the chamber.
The longtime feud between McConnell and former President Donald Trump spilled over to the midterms, with funding pulled from such candidates as Blake Masters in Arizona, who was outspent by 5-to-1 by incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly, who Friday was declared the winner in the race.
The Senate campaign arm also pulled money from New Hampshire candidate Don Bolduc in the final weeks of the race, which went to Democrat incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan.
In a letter obtained by Politico, Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah and Rick Scott of Florida pressed colleagues to sign off on postponing the party's leadership elections, which are for now scheduled for Wednesday morning.
However, several other GOP senators are calling for the leadership elections to be delayed, including Marco Rubio of Florida, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri.
Hawley and Eric Schmitt, who just was elected to Missouri's other Senate seat, have publicly come out about replacing McConnell.
Scott, the leader of the powerful National Republican Senatorial Committee, has often had his differences with McConnell. He had said in a video he intended to challenge McConnell for the leadership spot, but Friday backed out as questions continue whether Republicans will take majority control of the Senate.
With Kelly's win in Arizona, the race for party control of the Senate hinges on the final outcome of the race in Nevada between GOP candidate Adam Laxalt and incumbent Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, which is within hundreds of votes and too close to call, and on a recall election in Georgia between incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.
"We are all disappointed that a Red Wave failed to materialize, and there are multiple reasons it did not," the senators said in the letter. "We need to have serious discussions within our conference as to why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024."
As matters stand now, the Senate GOP leadership slate is expected to keep McConnell as leader, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota as whip, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming as conference chair, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa as policy committee chair, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia as conference vice chair and Sen. Steve Daines of Montana as chair of the Senate Republicans' campaign arm.
Johnson and Lee, meanwhile, have also often disagreed with how McConnell manages the Senate Republicans. Both senators won reelection, and Johnson received $25 million from the Senate Leadership Fund.
Rubio, speaking out against the leadership election being held now, said the party must make sure that people who want to lead it are "genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities and values of the working Americans."
Cruz, meanwhile, said it "makes no sense" to have the elections before the Warnock-Walker runoff is decided.
David McIntosh, a former congressman and leader of the conservative Club for Growth, said he doesn't anticipate a change in leadership, but said McConnell's power as leader could be diminished.