After a disappointing showing in Tuesday’s elections, where the hoped-for red tsunami didn’t happen, and we now face a looming run-off in Georgia for a pivotal senate seat, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is arguing that the vote for Republican leader in the Senate should be delayed:
The Senate GOP leadership vote next week should be postponed
First we need to make sure that those who want to lead us are genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities & values of the working Americans (of every background) who gave us big wins in states like #Florida
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 11, 2022
Rubio, fresh off a surprisingly convincing win against well-funded Democrat Val Demings, was joined by Missouri Republican Josh Hawley in calling for the delay:
Exactly right. I don’t know why Senate GOP would hold a leadership vote for the next Congress before this election is finished. We have a runoff in #GASenate – are they saying that doesn’t matter? Don’t disenfranchise @HerschelWalker https://t.co/atIETyoCKY
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 11, 2022
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has been the second longest-serving leader for either party, holding the role since 2007. Is Rubio’s call to delay the vote a public salvo to “Ditch Mitch?” While McConnell is known as a master tactician and earned a lot of praise for his role in nominating conservative judges to the bench in the Trump administration, he’s about as inspirational as your average rock to many voters. Here’s what he said in August in the lead-up to the midterms:
I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different. They’re statewide. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome. [Emphasis mine.]
Way to rile up the base, Mitch! Criticizing your own party’s candidates while essentially revealing you don’t think the GOP can take back the Senate majority? Not exactly the way to get voters to the polls. It’s almost like he was purposely trying to depress GOP turnout.
Blake Masters getting dollars yanked from his race when he needed it most should cost Mitch McConnell his leadership position. Whether Blake wins or not. That’s honesty inexcusable. https://t.co/bn0EbYItfD
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) November 10, 2022
It’s unclear who would have a shot at beating McConnell for the post. (Maybe Hawley himself?) Rubio’s fellow Florida senator Rick Scott was rumored to be thinking of making a challenge and had reportedly received former President Donald Trump’s blessing. It would appear though that he’s backed down for now, according to Politico:
Senator Rick Scott of Florida was poised to challenge McConnell, Republicans briefed on his plans told me, until he decided against a bid Wednesday morning [November 9] , when it became clear Republicans may not capture the majority and there was to be a Senate runoff in Georgia.
Meanwhile, CNN reported that McConnell is in a strong position:
Scott had little chance of defeating McConnell, who has been working for months to lock down the votes and told CNN last month that he has the votes.
Still, it’s clear that there’s some dissension among the Republicans after Tuesday’s underwhelming midterm performance. As my colleague Brad Slager opined, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rubio are bright spots in the GOP universe, and they showed how it is done by soundly defeating their Democrat opponents—even in heavily blue Miami-Dade County. We need to model their strategies in the future.
Mitch might retain his leadership role for now, but expect other Republicans to make their dissatisfaction known as well. He would be wise to pay attention.