Having spent money foolishly to fight a Republican battle in Alaska and after losing Senate seats in Arizona and elsewhere in the country, Sen. Mitch McConnell has nonetheless won the needed votes from his Republican members to continue as Senate Minority Leader. You read that right: He could have been Majority Leader, but his use of the Senate Leadership Fund political action committee funds may have sealed the fate for Republicans to stay in the Senate minority.
Senate Republicans voted Wednesday in a secret ballot to keep McConnell of Kentucky as their leader. This continues his role as the lawmaker who is at the highest office of any Republican in the country and allows him to continue directing the Senate Leadership Fund, which spent millions of dollars to defeat Alaska Republican Kelly Tshibaka in an effort to prop up the campaign of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who had been censured by the Alaska Republican Party.
Republican grassroots leaders in Alaska were furious with McConnell this fall for meddling in their election, after McConnell directed $7 million of donated funds to vicious ads against Tshibaka, who is the Alaska Republican Party’s endorsed nominee. It’s unclear how Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan voted on McConnell continuing as Senate Majority Leader, but almost certain that Murkowski returned the favor.
But there were dissenters:
“We have a contested leadership election in the Senate GOP,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote on Twitter. “My view is we should let @HerschelWalker 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.”
Herschel Walker, a Republican, faces a runoff with Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia on Dec. 6.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas criticized McConnell on Cruz’ “Verdict” podcast on Monday.
“Mitch would rather be leader than have a Republican majority,” Cruz said. “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.”
The vote proceeded despite an attempt to delay it, launched by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, and despite a letter from Scott, who launched a bid to take the spot. Scott wrote to his fellow Republicans on Wednesday, “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. 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.”
“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 wrote.