Florida’s Rick Scott says he’s challenging McConnell for US Senate leadership

The leadership clash comes after disappointing results for Republicans last week.
Sen. Rick Scott speaks during a get-out-the-vote rally at an RNC Hispanic Community Center in Tampa on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.
Sen. Rick Scott speaks during a get-out-the-vote rally at an RNC Hispanic Community Center in Tampa on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 15, 2022|Updated Nov. 15, 2022

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida announced Tuesday that he is challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell to be the Republican leader in the Senate.

“The status quo is broken and big change is needed,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “It’s time for new leadership in the Senate that unites Republicans to advance a bold conservative agenda. That’s why I’m running to be the Senate Republican Leader.”

He also sent a letter to his colleagues that further explained his reasoning.

“We must start saying what we are for, not just what we are against,” Scott wrote.

Scott is the chairperson of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, called the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and clashed with McConnell over strategy during the midterms.

While unlikely to succeed, Scott’s unexpected challenge to McConnell comes as Republicans are wrestling over a lackluster performance in the midterms, when the party out of power historically sees significant gains. Republicans failed to flip the Senate red and made smaller gains in the U.S. House than expected.

The Senate leadership election is scheduled to be held Wednesday, though some Republicans, including Scott, have advocated that it be pushed back until after the Dec. 6 runoff election to determine the outcome of Georgia’s Senate race. McConnell, the Kentucky senator who has been Senate GOP leader for the last 15 years, has previously said that he is confident he has the votes to keep his position.

Scott listed the many reasons he was running, including that Republicans had compromised too much with Democrats in the last Congress — producing bills that President Joe Biden has counted as successes and that Democrats ran on in the 2022 election.

Many Republican senators appeared to be sticking with McConnell, a master of Senate procedure who has made protecting his incumbent senators his top priority.

“Mitch has ice in his veins,” said North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer. Speculating before Scott announced his bid, Cramer said the “obvious problem” is that Scott led the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“If you’re going to make this about assessing blame for losing an election, I don’t know how the NRSC chairman gets off the hook,” Cramer said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.