Several Republican senators are calling for a delay to GOP leadership elections next week, as open warfare threatens the party — and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — following disappointing midterm results.
In a letter Friday, Sens. Rick Scott of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah argued the elections should be postponed until there are “serious discussions within our conference as to why [the party fared poorly] and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024.”
Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) echoed the message on Twitter.
The Senate GOP leadership vote next week should be postponed
First we need to make sure that those who want to lead us are genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities & values of the working Americans (of every background) who gave us big wins in states like #Florida
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 11, 2022
“I don’t know why Senate GOP would hold a leadership vote for the next Congress before this election is finished,” Hawley wrote, pointing to a Georgia Senate runoff election set for Dec. 6. The Missouri Republican has already made clear that he won’t back McConnell.
McConnell is standing for another term as GOP leader, a position he’s held longer than any Republican in U.S. history. Last month, he declared that he had the support in his conference necessary to win, which would make him the longest-serving Senate party leader ever.
The push to delay the leadership elections, which take place behind closed doors and whose vote tallies are not made public, comes in the wake of reports that Scott recorded a video prior to the midterms announcing a challenge to McConnell as leader, one that he abandoned after a much-hyped “red wave” failed to materialize Tuesday. Republicans are now hoping to pick up a bare majority of 51 seats after GOP candidates lost in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, while also being on track to lose in Arizona.
Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee and is widely seen as someone with presidential ambitions, predicted that the GOP would pick up as many as five seats prior to the midterms. He also publicly feuded with McConnell earlier this year after the Kentuckian acknowledged the lacking quality of some Senate GOP candidates.
McConnell’s position as leader isn’t seriously in doubt, but Friday’s revolt is yet another sign of disarray in the party both in Washington and across the country. Former President Donald Trump is attacking other would-be GOP presidential candidates, calls are growing within the party to dump him, House Republicans are dealing with the possibility of a small and fractious majority next year, and state GOP parties are reckoning with Trump-backed candidates who got walloped this week.
The division comes at an especially poor time for Senate Republicans, whose path to a majority may hinge on next month’s vote in Georgia.
“Hard to think of better way to lose GA runoff than even a faux leadership battle in interim,” conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt tweeted Friday.
Meanwhile, Trump is planning on making a “special announcement” at his Mar-a-Lago resort Tuesday, the day before the Senate GOP leadership vote is scheduled to take place. The announcement is widely expected to be the launch of his 2024 presidential run — yet another headache for Republican officials seeking to turn the page on Trump’s brand of politics, which have hurt their electoral fortunes since 2020.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.