Politics

Rick Scott announces bid for Senate GOP leader

Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott launched a bid Wednesday afternoon to succeed Mitch McConnell as the next Republican leader, telling colleagues he wants to make “dramatic change” in the way the conference operates.

The first-term senator will face an uphill battle against Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former whip himself. Scott lost a race to McConnell in 2022, but he won the backing of the conference’s most conservative members. He’s likely to have the support of some of those members again this time around.

Scott predicted in his letter to fellow senators that the GOP will take the Senate back, build a larger majority in the House and elect former President Donald Trump “with a mandate for dramatic change.” He said he’ll aim to increase transparency, abide by a six-year leadership term limit and will not “pressure” colleagues to vote against their states’ wishes.

He also made clear that he will not sign off on deals that unite Democrats and divide Republicans — which would include major recent legislation on raising the debt ceiling, government funding, firearm regulation, infrastructure and microchip manufacturing.

“Republicans all across America want the Republicans they elected to the U.S. Senate to stop caving in to Democrat demands. This is not an unreasonable request or expectation,” Scott wrote in the letter.

Scott also cast himself as the most Trump-friendly candidate, harkening back to a relationship that existed before either man ran for office. Both Thune and Cornyn have at times diverged from Trump, either tactically, legislatively or rhetorically.

Scott said “to turn this country around we will need to work closely with President Trump.” Realistically, his best chance against his two seasoned competitors is for Trump to win the presidential race and strongly back his bid. Trump has also encouraged National Republican Senatorial Committee Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to get in the race.

Interestingly, the Florida Republican has to win another election first to qualify for the leadership election: He’s running for another six-year term this November, in a race he’s currently favored to win. And his announcement jolts what had been a two-man race between Thune and Cornyn, both of whom have helped run the Senate floor under the tutelage of McConnell.

Scott has been toying with the bid for months now, since McConnell announced his plans to step down at the end of the year. The Floridian said in an interview on Tuesday he was “still considering” what to do.

But big changes were clearly on his mind.

“There ought to be a different way to run the conference. I read the Constitution, we’re supposed to represent our states, it’s been very difficult to do that. We don’t get amendment votes, bills don’t go through committee. There’s a lot of problems here,” Scott said. “And we need to start operating as a Republican conference to give people the opportunity to represent their states.”

Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott launched a bid Wednesday afternoon to succeed Mitch McConnell as the next Republican leader, telling colleagues he wants to make “dramatic change” in the way the conference operates.
The first-term senator will face an uphill battle against Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former whip himself. Scott lost a race to McConnell in 2022, but he won the backing of the conference’s most conservative members. He’s likely to have the support of some of those members again this time around.
Scott predicted in his letter to fellow senators that the GOP will take the Senate back, build a larger majority in the House and elect former President Donald Trump “with a mandate for dramatic change.” He said he’ll aim to increase transparency, abide by a six-year leadership term limit and will not “pressure” colleagues to vote against their states’ wishes.
He also made clear that he will not sign off on deals that unite Democrats and divide Republicans — which would include major recent legislation on raising the debt ceiling, government funding, firearm regulation, infrastructure and microchip manufacturing.
“Republicans all across America want the Republicans they elected to the U.S. Senate to stop caving in to Democrat demands. This is not an unreasonable request or expectation,” Scott wrote in the letter.
Scott also cast himself as the most Trump-friendly candidate, harkening back to a relationship that existed before either man ran for office. Both Thune and Cornyn have at times diverged from Trump, either tactically, legislatively or rhetorically.
Scott said “to turn this country around we will need to work closely with President Trump.” Realistically, his best chance against his two seasoned competitors is for Trump to win the presidential race and strongly back his bid. Trump has also encouraged National Republican Senatorial Committee Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to get in the race.
Interestingly, the Florida Republican has to win another election first to qualify for the leadership election: He’s running for another six-year term this November, in a race he’s currently favored to win. And his announcement jolts what had been a two-man race between Thune and Cornyn, both of whom have helped run the Senate floor under the tutelage of McConnell.
Scott has been toying with the bid for months now, since McConnell announced his plans to step down at the end of the year. The Floridian said in an interview on Tuesday he was “still considering” what to do.
But big changes were clearly on his mind.
“There ought to be a different way to run the conference. I read the Constitution, we’re supposed to represent our states, it’s been very difficult to do that. We don’t get amendment votes, bills don’t go through committee. There’s a lot of problems here,” Scott said. “And we need to start operating as a Republican conference to give people the opportunity to represent their states.”  

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