“It makes no sense for Senate to have leadership elections before GA runoff. We don’t yet know whether we’ll have a majority & Herschel Walker deserves a say in our leadership,” Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted on Friday, a day before Republicans learned they definitely wouldn’t have a majority. “Critically, we need to hear a specific plan for the next 2 yrs from any candidate for leadership.”
Cruz did not change his tune after control of the Senate was decided with the reelection of Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. On Sunday night he retweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham taking up the call for a delayed election.
“In light of #GASen runoff, it would be appropriate to delay Senate leadership elections until we know who is in the Senate Republican Conference,” Graham wrote. “I totally agree with Senator @TedCruz that to do otherwise would be disrespectful to @HerschelWalker.”
Sens. Marco Rubio, Cynthia Lummis, and Josh Hawley have likewise called for the leadership election to be pushed back from Wednesday. Hawley has said he’ll vote against McConnell, and Sen.-elect Eric Schmitt has implied as much, saying Senate Republicans need new leadership.
By now you’re talking about nine out of 49 or 50 Republican senators.
Rick Scott—who headed the Senate Republican election effort this year—had planned to challenge McConnell, but backed away from that following the party’s flop. On Sunday, though, Scott told Fox News, “Here’s my focus: We’ve still got to win Georgia, I’m not going to take anything off the table but my job right now is to do everything I can to help Herschel win.”
McConnell is not the only one facing a rebellion, though. A long list of prominent Republicans is releasing a letter calling for delay not only of the Senate leadership elections but the House as well. “The Republican Party needs leaders who will confidently and skillfully present a persuasive coherent vision of who we are, what we stand for, and what we will do. Many current elections are still undecided. There should be no rushed leadership elections,” they write. “Conservative Members of the House and Senate have called for the leadership elections to be delayed. We strongly urge both Houses of Congress to postpone the formal Leadership elections until after the December 6 runoff in Georgia and all election results are fully decided.”
The list of signatories to that letter includes prominent Trumpworld figures like former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Office of Management and Budget head Russ Vought, along with Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, CPAC Chair Matt Schlapp, and, oh, by the way, Supreme Court spouse Ginni Thomas.
But McConnell is much more competent than McCarthy, and has generally had a much better grip on his caucus. Following the red wave that wasn’t, we all knew that with whatever narrow control of the House they end up with, there would be significant Republican infighting and deal-making, and that if McCarthy squeaks through, he will have gotten there by bargaining away a significant amount of power to the likes of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. McConnell, on the other hand, is one of the longest-serving Republican Senate leaders ever, and has wielded power very effectively. The fact that the anger in this moment is carrying over to be a threat to him is more significant. And since McConnell is by far the strongest leader congressional Republicans have right now, any damage to his leadership is likely to be good news for Democrats.
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