As the Republican Party appears poised to regain a Senate majority in Tuesday’s midterm elections, prior speculation of a challenge to Mitch McConnell’s leadership has only increased as the final hours count down.
As reported by The Hill, Florida Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has long hinted at the possibility that he might challenge McConnell for the position of Senate Majority Leader. On Sunday, Scott again refused to rule out the option of running against McConnell after NBC’s Chuck Todd asked him about such a showdown on “Meet the Press.”
When Todd asked if Scott would consider running for Senate Majority Leader, Scott responded by saying that he is “not focused on anything except getting a majority Tuesday night.” When Todd called his response a “non-answer,” Scott replied by adding that “it’s a possibility.”
Republican strategists have reported numerous back-and-forths between Scott and McConnell suggesting that their relationship has fluctuated, going from a once solid working relationship to a contentious rivalry in recent months. Scott, as the current head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), has clashed with McConnell and his Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) for refusing to fund certain pro-Trump candidates in crucial swing states.
One strategist, speaking anonymously, said that one of Scott’s advisers allegedly said that “a fight for McConnell is good for him, and he’s trying to raise his profile to see what his choices are post-NRSC,” including a possible presidential run in the future.
Scott, who was first elected to the Senate in 2018 after serving two terms as Governor, is a loyal ally of President Donald Trump, while McConnell has repeatedly criticized the popular former president; Trump and McConnell are now allegedly no longer on speaking terms, while Scott still travels to the president’s private estate at Mar-a-Lago in Florida to talk to him. As such, the conflict between McConnell and Scott appears to be setting up an ideological showdown between the establishment wing of the GOP and the rising national populist movement, fueled by many candidates running in 2022 who were endorsed by President Trump.