Rick Scott Announces Challenge To Mitch McConnell As Senate GOP Leader
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida will challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his role in the upcoming leadership election, per a letter he wrote on Tuesday.
Scott’s office circulated a letter among GOP senators and senators-elect announcing his intention to run in the election, which will be held on Wednesday in the Old Senate Chamber, per Fox News. Though the contents of the letter have not yet been released, McKinley Davis, Scott’s spokesperson, later confirmed the plan to Axios.
Scott, a first-term senator and former governor of Florida, announces his campaign one day before the vote, yet at a time when McConnell’s leadership has been questioned by several GOP Senate colleagues. The failure of the party to win key Senate races in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and New Hampshire during the midterm elections has prompted skepticism of McConnell’s judgment from among his colleagues.
McConnell’s affiliated Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, withdrew funding from several battleground state GOP Senate candidates at a time when they were behind Democratic challengers in the polls. Despite one race, in Georgia, heading to a runoff in December, Democrats retained control of the chamber after flipping Pennsylvania’s Senate seat, with Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman being elected to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
Scott, as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, had been engaged in a monthslong dispute with McConnell regarding the funding of Senate candidates, with McConnell having publicly criticized candidate quality in these races. Senate nominees in battleground states were all public supporters of former President Donald Trump, with some receiving his endorsement over more moderate candidates in GOP primaries.
Scott is also one of several GOP Senators who have called for the conference’s leadership elections to be held after Georgia’s runoff. However, McConnell and his allies, including Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the Senate GOP Conference Chairman, overruled these requests and scheduled the vote for Wednesday.
The challenge to McConnell’s leadership comes on the day that his counterpart in the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, was unsuccessfully challenged for his leadership of the House GOP Conference by Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, a populist and ally of Trump. Trump himself is an opponent of McConnell, having called him a “dour, sullen, unsmiling political hack” and supported his removal.
McConnell and Scott’s offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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