Taking a stand against the very Establishment GOP Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) are pressing their Senate GOP colleagues to delay the leadership elections for the body so that a challenge to McConnell can be arranged following the dismal GOP showing in last week’s midterms.
They’re doing so in a letter that was obtained by Politico. The letter, the three senators say, according to Politico:
“We are all disappointed that a Red Wave failed to materialize, and there are multiple reasons it did not. We need to have serious discussions within our conference as to why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024.”
“Holding leadership elections without hearing from the candidates as to how they will perform their leadership duties and before we know whether we will be in the majority or even who all our members are violates the most basic principles of a democratic process. It is certainly not the way leadership elections should be conducted in the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
Trump has joined in the anti-Mitch McConnell campaign as well, as CNN reported recently, saying:
[P]rivately, Trump is trying to turn GOP anger toward McConnell.
In phone calls with allies, elected officials and incoming members of Congress, the former President has accused McConnell of spending recklessly in states where Republicans faced significant headwinds at the expense of candidates in more competitive contests. He and aides have specifically alluded to the Alaska Senate race, where the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund spent more than $5 million attacking a Trump-backed Republican challenger to incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski. That candidate, Kelly Tshibaka, appears poised to advance to a ranked choice runoff against Murkowski on November 23.
Newsmax, discussing why many in the GOP are upset with McConnell and ready to remove him from leadership, noted much the same concerns that Trump supposedly has, saying that:
McConnell pulled funding from such candidates as Blake Masters in Arizona, who was outspent by 5-to-1 by incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly, who was declared the winner in the race Friday.
McConnell’s Senate campaign arm also pulled money from New Hampshire candidate Don Bolduc in the final weeks of the race, which was won by incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.
It appears doubtful, as of now, that the challenge to McConnell’s grip on the GOP Senate caucus will be successful. The insurgents have so far had trouble finding anyone to openly challenge Sen. McConnell, though there are rumors that Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee will do it.
However, the very fact that McConnell, who is normally elected to his leadership position by unanimous acclimation, could face a challenge before this Congress shows that the Establishment GOP is starting to see its grip on the party slide as the more conservative senators move toward MAGA in outlook and tactics and court the favor of the base rather than the Establishment funding machine.