Winner Has Emerged in Long-Shot Challenge for GOP Leadership


After Republicans were unable to take control of the Senate in the midterm elections, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky still managed to become the minority leader Wednesday, beating out Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who had suddenly declared his intention to be the Republican’s leader in the Senate the day before.

Scott, who was the National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman, only got 10 votes from GOP senators, The Hill reported.

Meanwhile, McConnell solidly led with 37 votes and one abstention from his fellow Republican senators.

Who voted for whom is unknown, since it was a secret ballot, the Washington Times reported.

The victory gives McConnell the Republican reins in the Senate for another two years, which would allow him to become the longest-serving party leader in the history of the Senate, potentially surpassing Montana Democrat Mike Mansfield, who led his party from 1961 to 1977, the New York Post reported.

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McConnell has been leading the Republicans since 2007.

Scott’s sudden and last-minute challenge for McConnell’s leadership chair was also the first time in 15 years that the Kentucky senator has faced a contest, Axios reported.

The battle between McConnell and Scott came about after the “two had been engaged in a public tit-for-tat over who was responsible for last Tuesday’s election results,” in which the Republicans only managed to take 49 seats in the Senate and did not carry off the “red wave” that some had hoped for, Axios reported.

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The Senate Republican Conference held a long meeting on Tuesday, which Scott then came out of with a desire for leadership, The Hill reported.

But McConnell managed to win by a large margin.

“We collectively, I think, had a good discussion about what happened in the election and what happens in the next election. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve,” McConnell said, according to The Hill.

When the contest between Scott and McConnell suddenly arose, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made a motion to delay the vote for the minority leader until after the Dec. 6 Georgia Senate runoff election, but it was voted against by 32 senators, while only 16 supported it, Axios reported.

Meanwhile, as the Senate organizes itself after the midterms, other Republican senators took different roles of leadership in the party.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines replaced Scott in his role as the NRSC chairman, Axios reported.

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Both Sen. John Thune (South Dakota) and John Barrasso (Wyoming) were re-elected to their respective positions as minority whip and conference chair, Axios reported.

West Virginia’s Sen. Shelley Moore Capito became the Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, as she announced on Twitter.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst became the policy chair of the Senate Republicans, Axios reported.

While the Senate Republicans organize themselves as the minority party of the Senate, the House Republicans are one seat away from taking the majority, after managing to flip 18 seats, according to Reuters election results.

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