Senate Republicans re-elect Mitch McConnell as minority leader

Senate Republicans have once again chosen Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell to lead their conference when the 118th Congress convenes in January.

Of the 48 Republicans who will serve in the upper chamber starting next year, 37 voted to keep the Bluegrass State’s senior senator as their leader, while ten of them voted for Florida senator Rick Scott, who headed the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2022 election cycle. One senator voted to abstain.

Mr Scott, who has often clashed with Mr McConnell over matters of tactics and strategy as the GOP pushed to regain the majority in the upper chamber, announced on Tuesday that he would seek to unseat the Kentuckian, who is also the longest-serving GOP leader in senate history.

In a letter to his colleagues, Mr Scott wrote that Senate Republicans need to be “far more bold and resolute” than they’ve been “in the past”.

The Floridian, who is serving in his first term after defeating former senator Bill Nelson in the 2018 election, drew some condemnation from his colleagues after releasing a platform that called for sunsetting all federal legislation after a five-year interval. Democrats, including President Joe Biden, seized on that provision to attack the GOP for wanting to end social security and medicare, which were not exempt from Mr Scott’s proposal.

Mr McConnell had also drawn the ire of some of his far-right colleagues for supporting bipartisan legislation that Mr Biden and Democrats were able to tout on the campaign train, and for suggesting that many of the candidates supported by Mr Scott — and by former president Donald Trump — were unelectable.

A number of Senate Republicans had pushed to delay leadership elections to allow more time for challengers to Mr McConnell to gather support, but a separate vote on such a delay failed by a margin of 16 senators in favour and 32 against.