McConnell faces Senate leadership challenge from Florida’s Scott


WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Senate Republicans were meeting behind closed doors Wednesday as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell faces a challenge to his leadership, a renegade bid by the GOP’s campaign chief, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, to oust him after the midterm elections.

McConnell has seen some pushback from fellow Republicans recently for not delaying this vote until after the Dec. 6 runoff election in Georgia. There may be more calls to delay the vote later today, but McConnell said he has the votes from party members.

“I think the outcome is pretty clear,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “I want to repeat again: I have the votes; I will be elected. The only issue is whether we do it sooner or later.”

The unrest in the Senate is similar to the uproar among Republicans in the House in the aftermath of the midterm elections that left the party split over former President Donald Trump’s hold on the party. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy won the nomination from colleagues to run for House speaker, with Republicans on the cusp of seizing the House majority, but he faces stiff opposition from a core group of right-flank Republicans unconvinced of his leadership.

On Wednesday, the senators first rejected a motion by a Scott ally, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, to delay the leadership vote until after the Dec. 6 runoff election in Georgia between Republican Herschel Walker and incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock that will determine the final makeup of the Senate. Walker was eligible to vote in the leadership election but wasn’t expected to be present.

There are 49 GOP senators expected to vote on Wednesday, including newly elected senators who are in town this week but not yet sworn into office, and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is eligible even though her race against Republican Kelly Tshibaka hasn’t been called yet. Sixteen senators voted to delay the voting.

The announcement by Scott, who was urged by Trump to challenge McConnell, escalated a long-simmering feud between Scott, who led the Senate Republican’s campaign arm this year, and McConnell over the party’s approach to trying to reclaim the Senate majority.

“If you simply want to stick with the status quo, don’t vote for me,” Scott said in a letter to Senate Republicans offering himself as a protest vote against McConnell.

Restive conservatives in the chamber have lashed out at McConnell’s handling of the election, as well as his iron grip over the Senate Republican caucus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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