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McConnell reelected Senate GOP leader: 'Not going anywhere'

by The Associated Press | November 17, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., gestures after being reelected as Republican leader, quashing a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., in the Senate Republican leadership elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


By LISA MASCARO, BRIAN SLODYSKO and MARY CLARE JALONICK

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Mitch McConnell was reelected as Republican leader Wednesday, quashing a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the Senate GOP campaign chief criticized after a disappointing performance in the midterm elections that kept Senate control with Democrats.

McConnell, of Kentucky, easily swatted back the challenge from Scott in the first-ever attempt to oust him after many years as GOP leader. The vote was 37-10, senators said, with one other senator voting present. McConnell is poised to become the Senate's longest-serving leader when the new Congress convenes next year.

"I'm not going anywhere," McConnell said after the nearly four-hour closed-door meeting. He said he was "pretty proud" of the outcome but acknowledged the work ahead. "I think everybody in our conference agrees we want to give it our best shot."

At a GOP senators lunch on Tuesday, Scott and McConnell had traded what colleagues said were "candid" and "lively" barbs. The 10 Republican senators joining in Wednesday's revolt against McConnell and voting for Scott included some of the most conservative figures and those aligned with former President Donald Trump.

The unrest in the Senate GOP is similar to the uproar among House Republicans in the aftermath of the midterm elections that left the party split over 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.

Scott said in a statement that while the "results of today's elections weren't what we hoped for, this is far from the end of our fight to Make Washington Work."

Senators also elected the other GOP leadership posts. McConnell's top posts ranks remained stable, with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., as GOP whip, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., in the No. 3 spot as chairman of the GOP conference. Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines was elected to take over the campaign operation from Scott.

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.

Trump has been pushing for the party to dump McConnell ever since the Senate leader gave a scathing speech blaming then-President Trump for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

McConnell has forcefully pushed back, blaming the Republicans problems on what he has called "candidate quality" after many of his preferred candidates were replaced by Trump-backed Republicans on the ballot.

Democrats have postponed their internal elections until after Thanksgiving.


Print Headline: McConnell reelected Senate GOP leader: 'Not going anywhere'

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