Conservative groups push Senate to delay leadership election as frustration with McConnell grows
Dozens of Tory activists called on Monday Senate Republicans delay leadership election as dissent against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell grows both inside and outside the upper house.
Fifty-nine people representing high-profile conservative groups signed the letter joining eight Senate Republicans in demanding a postponement of their leadership elections, scheduled for Wednesday. There are also House Republicans unhappy with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, calling for delaying their Tuesday election, which the letter’s signers also voiced support for. But it’s a smaller group compared to the whole conference.
“The Republican Party needs leaders who will confidently and competently present a cohesive and compelling version of who we are, what we stand for, and what we will do,” the letter said. “A lot of the ongoing elections are still undecided. There shouldn’t be a rushed leadership election.”
Matt Schlapp, president of the Conservative Political Action Conference; Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks; Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts; former Senator Jim DeMint, RS.C. ; Growth Club President David McIntosh; and former director of the Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought are among the letter’s most prominent signatories.
Former Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Ginni Thomas and former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis also signed the letter, which is led by Conservative Action Project Chairman J. Kenneth Blackwell.
“We urge both houses of Congress to postpone formal leadership elections until after the The December 6 runoff in Georgia and all election results are fully decided,” the activists wrote.
Meaning. Rick Scott,.R-Fla., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Lindsey Graham, R-C., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., are the Republicans so far who have called for delaying the GOP Senate election.
“The old party is dead. Time to bury it,” Hawley said in a weekend tweet.
But McConnell, R-Ky., Allies say they don’t see why it would be necessary to delay the election when there doesn’t appear to be any completion for the top spots.
“Senator Cotton said it best when he quoted Ric Flair and pointed out that no one has issued a challenge for any of the leadership positions,” a Republican strategist told Fox News Digital.
“To be the man, you have to beat the man,” Scott said on “Face the Nation” on CBS Sunday.
Much of the frustration among right-wing Republicans who support a postponement of the leadership election is with McConnell. They say he has given Democrats victories by voting for bipartisan bills and are frustrated that he has been lukewarm in his support for some Trump-backed Senate candidates.
But some Republicans are also angry with Scott, who has repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility of challenging McConnell for minority leader and served as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee for midterms.
“Members are frustrated and they’re looking for an outlet to have a conversation. There will be a heated discussion over lunch on Tuesday,” a Senate GOP aide told Fox News Digital. “There will also be a lot of questions about the quality of candidates, campaign priorities and mistakes. Many of them will be directed at Scott, especially if reports are true that he was preparing to challenge McConnell before. election day had even concluded.”
Top GOP activists, meanwhile, say it’s far too early to figure out what even happened halfway through.
“I’m still diving into the data from the last election,” Schlapp told Fox News Digital in an interview about the letter. “There are a lot of people scratching their heads trying to figure out why the results weren’t better.”
Schlapp added, “Members need time to digest, activists need time to digest, and I think anyone who wants to be a leader should welcome the conversation people need to have.”
Schlapp also said that without such a conversation, the result would be “fury” from activists who feel left out.
Despite pressure for a delay, the Senate and the House GOP leadership election is currently expected to go ahead as scheduled. Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., wrote to other Republican senators Friday.
“I expect a full and open discussion beginning at Tuesday’s political luncheon on our path forward. On Wednesday, we will meet again for our scheduled elections at the conference,” Barrasso wrote in a memo to GOP senators, who was obtained by Fox News Digital.
“I welcome the questions and points raised in the letter circulated by Senators Rick Scott, Lee and Johnson,” Barrasso said.
Despite the apparent jabs at his leadership in recent days, McConnell is likely secure in his role. Elections for the leader of the GOP in the Senate only require a majority of the conference, and there does not appear to be that level of opposition to McConnell.
McCarthy is also expected to win the nomination for House GOP chairman by a very significant majority of votes on Tuesday. But the formal election of the Speaker of the House in January requires a majority of the entire House. With the House GOP majority expected to be wafer-thin, it’s possible that a handful of members who oppose it could block McCarthy from the presidency.