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JUST IN: Rick Scott’s Challenge Thwarted by McConnell for GOP Leader

Following the Republicans’ dismal midterm results, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) overcame a challenge to his leadership to gain reelection as the party’s leader on Wednesday.

McConnell was challenged for his position by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who argued that Republicans needed to provide a distinct policy platform. Only a majority was required for McConnell to prevail in the secret ballot vote.

Sen. Josh Hawley reports that McConnell won on a 37-10 vote with one senator present (R-Mo.).

More than three hours had passed since the meeting’s start, and senators were still debating the party’s future behind closed doors when the announcement was made.

On Tuesday, Scott made his announcement during an hours-long venting session among Republicans angry about their inability to take back the chamber.

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On Tuesday, McConnell told reporters, “I don’t own this job. Anybody in the conference is certainly entitled to challenge me, and I welcome the contest.”

A proposal to postpone the vote until after the runoff election in Georgia on December 6 was rejected by senators.

Since Senate Republicans failed to pick up a single seat in the midterm elections, Scott’s and McConnell’s allies have been hurling obscenities at one another. After former president Donald Trump endorsed some first-time candidates in crucial swing states who failed in their contests, McConnell issued a warning last summer that Senate Republicans had a “candidate quality” problem. Scott blasted McConnell for delaying the release of the Republican platform before the midterm elections, and Trump has also tried to lay the blame at McConnell’s feet. Others have questioned Scott’s management of the NRSC and demanded an audit or post-mortem of his financial management during this period.

The first challenge against a Senate leader since 1996 resulted from the tensions. Even if some of his supporters are criticizing him more outspokenly than in the past, McConnell’s final win was never in doubt.

Having served as the Senate’s Republican leader for almost 16 years, McConnell will end the next Congress as the Senate’s longest-serving leader of any party.