(The Center Square) — Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to keep U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell as head of their party in the Senate.
The votes came in for McConnell despite a push from Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., to take the spot. Scott leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He sent a letter to his Republican colleagues dated Nov. 15 making the case for their vote.
“I’m writing to you today because I believe it’s time for the Senate Republican Conference to be far more bold and resolute than we have been in the past. We must start saying what we are for, not just what we are against,” he said. “I do not believe we can simply continue to say the Democrats are radical, which they are. Republican voters expect and deserve to know our plan to promote and advance conservative values. We need to listen to their calls for action and start governing in Washington like we campaign back at home. There is a Republican Party that is alive and well in communities across America. It is time there is one in Washington, D.C., too. That is why I am running to be Republican Leader.”
He laid out a range of policy priorities in the letter.
“For those who want to get serious about ending reckless government spending and the devastating inflation it has caused, finally take action to protect Social Security and Medicare and preserve the promise of these programs for our children and grandchildren, hold government accountable from the FBI to the IRS, truly combat the extreme danger posed by Communist China and refocus our military on lethal defense instead of woke nonsense, I ask for your support in changing the direction of the Senate and rescuing America from the dangerous path Democrats have set it on,” Scott said.
The vote proceeded despite calls to delay it to include Herschel Walker, who is taking on Democrat Raphael Warnock in a Dec. 6 runoff for a Georgia Senate seat.
“We have a contested leadership election in the Senate GOP,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “My view is we should let Herschel Walker vote! Don’t disenfranchise him. Tomorrow at the election meeting I will ask for a vote on a delay to allow Herschel, if elected, to participate.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, blasted McConnell Monday.
“Mitch would rather be leader than have a Republican majority,” Cruz said on “Verdict,” his podcast. “If there’s a Republican who can win who’s not going to support Mitch, the truth of the matter is he’d rather the Democrat win.”
McConnell told reporters Tuesday he was confident he would continue to lead the party.
“I think the outcome is pretty clear,” he said. “I want to repeat again, I have the votes. I will be elected.”
McConnell also shifted the blame for Republicans’ underwhelming midterm election performance to other leaders in the Republican party.
“We under-performed among independents and moderates because their impression of many of the people in our party, in leadership roles is that they’re causing chaos, negativity, excessive attacks,” he said. “And it frightened independent and moderate Republican voters.”
Scott, though, made that poor performance a key argument in his letter.
“Like each of you, I am deeply disappointed by the results of the recent election,” he said. “Despite what the armchair quarterbacks on TV will tell you, there is no one person responsible for our party’s performance across the country. I know there is no shortage of people who are eager to point fingers and assign blame here in Washington, but I won’t be one of them. It’s unproductive and a massive waste of time. We know that chief among our problems in races across America was a lack of Republican voter turnout. There may be many reasons for that, but after traveling the country to support our candidates I believe voters want a plan. They are begging us to tell them what we will do when we are in charge. Unfortunately, we have continued to elect leadership who refuses to do that and elicits attacks on anyone that does. That is clearly not working and it’s time for bold change. The voters are demanding it.”
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives remains up for grabs with Republicans just one seat away from the needed 218 votes to secure a majority. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is expected to get the official House Speaker spot when the new Congress takes over next year.