Alaska Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan back McConnell in vote to retain him as Senate GOP leader

Nov. 16—Sullivan Murkowski Mashup composite

WASHINGTON — After hours of closed-door debate Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan joined other Senate Republicans in reelecting Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell as Senate minority leader.

McConnell received 37 secret-ballot votes, while challenger Florida Sen. Rick Scott garnered 10 votes. One senator voted "present."

Scott's bid was the first challenge to McConnell's 15-year tenure as GOP Senate leader. The win positions him to become the longest-serving senator in the role.

"I'm not in any way offended by having an opponent or having a few votes in opposition," McConnell told reporters after the vote. "We had a good opportunity to discuss various differences. People had a chance to listen to both candidates, and I'm pretty proud of 37-10."

Sullivan declined to comment before the vote but immediately after the vote said he voted for McConnell, though he declined to say why.

On Tuesday, ahead of the vote, Murkowski tweeted that she would support McConnell.

"Senator McConnell has been a strong leader for our conference and I look forward to confirming him in our leadership elections this week," Murkowski said.

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McConnell supported Murkowski's reelection bid this year against Republican Kelly Tshibaka and Democrat Pat Chesbro. The Senate Leadership Fund, a PAC aligned with McConnell, spent millions in ads attacking Tshibaka.

McConnell's support for Murkowski drew blowback from former President Donald Trump, who blamed the minority leader for Republicans' failure to take control of the Senate.

"He's too busy spending vast amounts of money on bad Senator Lisa (Murkowski) of Alaska when Kelly (Tshibaka) is FAR better," Trump said on social media Friday.

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