“I have votes. I will be chosen. “The only issue is whether it will come sooner or later,” McConnell said. “I don’t own the job. Anyone who works in the conference can challenge me. And I welcome it.” [it].”
Senate Republicans grilled each other for nearly three hours Tuesday about the party’s poor performance in the midterms, an unusually long meeting that exposed deep frustrations about President Joe Biden’s middling popularity and the convention’s inability to capitalize on rising inflation. Republicans failed to flip any Democratic seats and were handed a minority for two years, prompting some GOP senators to complain loudly at a private lunch.
“We very rarely engage in any significant policy consideration. We play defense against the Democrats,” Chen quipped. Mike Brown (R-Ind.), plans to run for governor in 2024 and will support Scott.
Those gripes come to a head with Scott’s challenge, a cycle that could cost Republicans a seat following his takeover of the Senate GOP’s campaign arm. Former President Donald Trump, Scott, who took up the opposition’s bid, clashed with McConnell over strategy and tactics in the months leading up to Election Day.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a McConnell ally, said Scott could get votes “in the high single digits” and that GOP leaders have the votes to move forward with Wednesday’s leadership election.
During Tuesday’s meeting, some senators questioned the fiscal prudence of the national Republican Senatorial Caucus under Scott. Others complained that they lacked a more positive agenda.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke loudly through a private bedroom door as attendees appraised him. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) spoke for about half an hour.
“It was like Festivus from Seinfeld, airing the grievances. But the truth is, Mitch McConnell has done an extraordinary job,” Chen said. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), citing tax reform, conservative justices and McConnell’s fundraising.
Scott introduced his own agenda earlier this year, which McConnell quickly criticized for including tax increases and popular safety net plans. The Floridian did not join other party leaders at a press conference after Tuesday’s convention luncheon, but wrote to his colleagues in a letter that the GOP “must be more courageous and determined than it has been in the past.”
“I understand that I won’t have the support of every member of our conference, but we all have to make a clear choice. If you simply want to stick with the status quo, don’t vote for me,” Scott said. A message to colleagues announcing his initiative.
Scott is not expected to win enough support to unseat the president, with senators and aides predicting he could get 10 or more senators and senators-elect votes. But he’s moving forward anyway, with a sizable minority of senators pushing to delay leadership elections until all Senate races are decided.
Cornyn and other Republicans worry that a prolonged debate over party leadership could undermine their electoral chances in Georgia. Forty-nine GOP senators and senator-elects, including Sen, are allowed to vote on Wednesday. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), whose re-election campaign heads into a ranked-choice run.
And not all GOP senators welcome the leadership fight.
“I don’t think the challenge of our Senator McConnell was a smart decision. It’s something that will be with us for the next two years,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.), predicted a “second-guessing game when people run for president.”
While most Senate Republicans want to continue the debate about the party’s agenda and what didn’t work in this year’s midterm elections, when Trump-anointed candidates failed to win the general election, the McConnell-affiliated super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, saw no-spending results. and review with Scott’s NRSC regarding candidate quality.
McConnell has his own explanation for the party’s failure. He said independent voters “spend too much time on negativity, attacking and confusing” some Republican candidates. He singled out Arizona GOP candidate Blake Masters and New Hampshire GOP candidate Dan Bolduc for being “crushed by independent voters.”
But opponents say McConnell is also responsible as he ends his eighth term as GOP leader. Cruz charged, “Over and over again our leadership wants to cave in to the priorities of the Democratic Party. I think that’s a failed leadership strategy.
“We need a different model of government. It has to be more collaborative. Whoever the leader is, you have to hold us accountable. It’s a group of equals. It has to be run as a group of people. It’s not ‘Animal Farm,'” Johnson said in an interview. He will nominate Scott for the leadership post on Wednesday and will not run against Chen for the Republican Policy Committee chairmanship. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).
Not all procrastinators want McConnell out. Sen. Cynthia Loomis (R-Wyo.) said he would support the Kentuckian, who joined those asking for a delay.
Others, like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), says they’re looking for new leadership: “I’m not going to vote for Senator McConnell. I made it very clear. Her new Missouri GOP colleague, Sen.-elect Eric Schmidt, declined to comment on the leadership race Tuesday after signaling earlier this year that he would not support McConnell for chairman.
Indeed, the newly elected GOP senators became a wild card when they arrived in town Tuesday for orientation. In addition to Schmidt, JD Vance of Ohio, Katie Britt of Alabama, Ted Budd of North Carolina and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma join the GOP convention.
If McConnell wins, it would make him the longest-serving party leader in Senate history during the next Congress. Although he faced unrest at the convention, no one predicted Scott would even come close to ousting him.
“It might be wise to make sure everyone is here. We don’t know if Herschel Walker will be here or not,” Chen said. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), supports McConnell. “Sen. Does it make a difference if McConnell is president or not? Probably not.”
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