WASHINGTON — Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., on Tuesday announced a challenge to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for the top Republican leadership job in the Senate.
“The status quo is broken and big change is needed,” Scott said in a tweet. “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.”
The Florida senator first announced the move during a meeting of GOP members, a spokesman for Scott said.
McConnell, of Kentucky, has held the leadership position since 2007, making him the longest-serving GOP leader in Senate history.
Going into the midterm elections Tuesday, McConnell appeared to have a firm grasp on the leader’s job and Republicans appeared poised to take control of the Senate. But Democrats were able to flip control of a seat in Pennsylvania, effectively blocking Republicans from wresting the chamber.
“Like each of you, I am deeply disappointed by the results of the recent election,” Scott told colleagues in a letter Tuesday. As chair of the Senate Republican’s campaign arm, the Florida senator has faced criticism after the party’s lackluster midterms performance.
“Despite what the armchair quarterbacks on TV will tell you, there is no one person responsible for our party’s performance across the country,” Scott said in the letter. “I know there is no shortage of people who are eager to point fingers and assign blame here in Washington, but I won’t be one of them. It’s unproductive and a massive waste of time.”
Scott’s challenge was first reported by Politico.
Scott’s decision comes after he met privately with Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah, to discuss a challenge to McConnell.
It follows a lengthy feud between Scott and McConnell over strategy and vision for the Republican caucus. McConnell has long been the subject of ire from former President Donald Trump, who has campaigned aggressively to have him ousted as leader. McConnell publicly blamed Trump for the Jan. 6 riot.
For some members, it’s an uncomfortable position to be in.
“I don’t have any comments,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., when asked about Scott’s challenge and whether he plans to support McConnell.
“I understand that I won’t gain the support of every member of our Conference, but we all have a clear choice to make,” Scott said in his letter to GOP colleagues. “If you simply want to stick with the status quo, don’t vote for me.”