Republican senators think Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a good chance of retaining his position despite growing frustration among certain members and a drive to postpone leadership elections.
‘Heavens, yes,’ “When asked if McConnell, R-Ky., had the votes to stay Senate GOP leader, Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., who supports delaying Republican leadership elections, responded. Meanwhile, Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah predicted that McConnell will have “all the votes.” He also spoke out against postponing the elections.
“We didn’t delay the leadership election two years ago when there was a runoff for actually two Republican senators in Georgia, so there’s no reason to delay now,” Romney said.
McConnell, who would become the Senate GOP’s longest-serving leader if re-elected on Wednesday, is widely expected to maintain his hold on the conference. He has many political allies from his 38 years in the parliament, and he has never faced opposition in previous elections.
However, in the aftermath of the poor midterm elections, eight Republican senators have called for a delay in leadership elections, with some of them apparently targeting McConnell.
“The leadership in the Republican Senate says, ‘No, you cannot have a plan, we’re just going to run against how bad the Democrats are.’ And actually, then they cave into the Democrats,” said Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., on “Sunday Morning Futures. “Now they want to rush through an election. … They don’t want to do any assessment of what we’ve done wrong.”
Scott this week shared a letter on postponing leadership elections with Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin. Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., also tweeted in support of postponing the election.
“The old party is dead. Time to bury it. Build something new,” Hawley said. However, Lummis appears to be taking a more measured approach, stating that she does not believe the majority of the conference is now in favor of delaying elections.
“I think it’s a very small group,” she said. “And I don’t think it has anything to do with opposition to Sen. McConnell. In fact, I’m almost sure that it’s not about opposition to Sen. McConnell.”
Even if no one runs against McConnell right now, the Republican leader has a considerable advantage because Senate GOP leadership elections require only a simple majority of the conference. In contrast, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., may lose only a few GOP votes and still become House Speaker, as that position requires a majority of the entire house.
“Nobody’s announced yet. Could be,” said Johnson, who is thinking about running for another leadership post. Johnson said his current focus is “to delay the election, so we can discuss what happened.” He declined to specify how many senators are for delaying the leadership election, saying, “I hope there’s a majority.”