After the party’s underwhelming performance in the midterm elections, Republican senators are uniting around Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Even though senators won’t know if they will have 50 or 49 members in their conference until after the Dec. 6 Georgia runoff, a campaign by a group of Senate conservatives to postpone Wednesday’s leadership election is losing momentum.
In a sign that McConnell is still in complete control, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott (Florida), who is more closely associated with former president Trump, was unable to persuade the other members of the Senate GOP leadership team to support a delay in the election on Monday.
When Scott met with the rest of the leadership team on Monday afternoon, he didn’t push his case for a delay in the election or make it clear he intended to take on McConnell. During a conference lunch meeting on Tuesday, GOP senators said they intend to have a thorough discussion about what went wrong in the midterm elections.
Senior Republicans believe that the GOP losses in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada were significantly impacted by Trump’s engagement in the midterm elections, which energised Democratic Democrats to vote in huge numbers despite President Biden’s poor support rating.
One of the takeaways from 2022 midterms:
▶️ On the GOP side, the 2020 election should finally be over.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) November 14, 2022
“It’s never just one thing, but I think it’s very obvious that we didn’t do well with independent voters, who made up a sizable portion of the electorate in several of those battleground states. According to Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.), delaying the leadership election is not a winning plan. “And I believe that it’s apparent that running on relitigating the 2020 election is not a winning strategy.”
He predicted that McConnell would be chosen to serve as leader again and said, “We need to move forward.” The proposal to defer the leadership election until next month was also rejected by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former whip and consultant to the Senate GOP leadership group.
“I don’t understand why we would postpone a campaign with no candidates. I’m not sure what good that would accomplish, and I believe we must work to unite and get rid of obstacles to win the Georgia runoff, Cornyn added.
Although he admitted, “the results were disappointing,” he maintained “there’s no one factor” for why Republicans were unable to regain the Senate. The Texas Republican referred GOP candidates in Pennsylvania and Arizona when he stated that “first-time candidates” contributed to Republicans falling short of expectations.
Trump’s predictions regarding the 2020 presidential race, according to Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), did little to advance the Republican cause. “A better marketing approach is usually one that looks ahead. It’s evident that planning for 2020 didn’t work out, she remarked.
Additionally, some McConnell-aligned Republicans accuse Scott of introducing a plan earlier this year that called for the sunsetting of all federal laws after five years. A few days before election day, Biden attacked Scott in a speech for wanting to “throw Social Security and Medicare on the chopping board every five years.”
Scott declined to comment on his interaction with the leadership team following the meeting on Monday. Scott had projected earlier this month that Republicans will hold at least 52 seats in the next election.
Many Republican senators agree that McConnell deserves a lot of praise for aiding the party’s victories in North Carolina and Ohio. Using more than $33 million in Ohio and $38 million in North Carolina, the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC connected to McConnell, helped author J.D. Vance and Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) win their respective races.
Additionally, the Senate Leadership Fund contributed $39 million to support Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia, $26 million to Adam Laxalt’s campaign for Nevada’s Senate, which he narrowly lost, and $16.4 million to retired army general Don Bolduc’s unsuccessful bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.
Supporters of McConnell point out that he collected more money for Bolduc, who supported Trump’s unfounded allegations of election fraud during the Republican primary, than the president-elect spent on all Senate Republican candidates combined.
One of Trump’s closest allies in the upper chamber, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), told reporters on Monday that he still intended to vote for McConnell to remain the leader for another two terms and that he supported holding the election on Wednesday as scheduled.
Tuberville said he would still vote for McConnell even though Trump has frequently urged Senate Republicans to remove him from the leadership. Tuberville has stated that he will support Trump if he runs for president again.
He joked, “Is that an oxymoron? “Everyone has a point of view.” Republicans, according to Tuberville, need to reevaluate their plan to increase Republican voter turnout by utilising early voting and mail-in ballots.
Seven Senate Republicans last week demanded that the leadership election be postponed until after the Georgia runoff, but John Barrasso (Wyo.), the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and a close McConnell ally who controls the timing, was unmoved.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday joined the call to postpone the leadership election. But on the same day, emerging conservative star Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) advocated against a postponement because none of the current leaders has faced a challenge.
“Since all five or six of our leadership races are uncontested, I fail to understand why we would postpone the vote. Cotton advised his colleagues to “move forward with these elections so we can focus again on the Georgia runoff,” saying that “to be the man, you got to beat the man,” and that “so far no one has had the nerve to step forward and challenge Sen. McConnell.” Cotton made the statement on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Within the GOP conference, McConnell’s conservative detractors have used the election’s disappointment as cover to attack the party’s leader. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has previously disagreed with McConnell, charged him on Monday with “abandoning” Blake Masters in the fight for the Arizona Senate.
Cruz, who is considering a second presidential bid, charged that McConnell had prioritised his desire to remain the party’s leader over the interests of the party. Cruz remarked on his podcast, “Verdict,” about the Senate Leadership Fund’s decision to withdraw from the Arizona Senate race in September, “Abandoning Blake Masters was unjustifiable.”
Cruz said that the choice was motivated by Masters’s pledge made during the Republican primary to oppose McConnell’s candidacy for reelection as the leader. “Since Masters stated that he would vote against Mitch McConnell. Therefore, Mitch prefers to be in charge over having a Republican majority. The reality is that he would prefer the Democrat to win if a Republican who can win does not support Mitch, Cruz stated.
One of McConnell’s supporters noted that the Arizona Senate campaign received $13.1 million from One Nation, a McConnell-backed outside spending group. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who is retiring, blamed Trump directly last week for celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz (R) losing to Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) in a crucial contest in his home state.
He claimed on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” that “President Trump had to insert himself and it changed the tenor of the race and that was just too much of an impediment.” It’s not just Pennsylvania, by the way. You look around the nation, there’s a very high link between MAGA candidates and significant losses, or at least dramatically underperforming,” he continued, alluding to Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”