Although Republicans are likely to secure a narrow majority in the former chamber after the midterm election, several candidates vying for a spot in the latter chamber succumbed to their Democratic rivals. A number of high-profile lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), circulated a letter asking their colleagues to postpone leadership elections currently scheduled for next week.
“We need to have serious discussions within our conference as to why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024,” the lawmakers said in the letter first obtained by Politico. “Holding leadership elections without hearing from the candidates as to how they will perform their leadership duties and before we know whether we will be in the majority or even who all our members are violates the most basic principles of a democratic process. It is certainly not the way leadership elections should be conducted in the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has served in the upper chamber since 1985 and has led the Senate Republican Conference since 2007.
Beyond the authors of the letter, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called for the elections to be postponed, arguing that Republicans “need to make sure that those who want to lead us are genuinely committed” to fighting for working-class Americans who gave conservatives “big wins” in states such as Florida. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) likewise said that the vote should not occur “before this election is finished.”
At least three Senate contests have not been called by any major news networks as of Friday afternoon, meaning that either party could hold narrow control over the Senate next year. Venture capitalist Blake Masters is trailing incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) in the Arizona vote count, while Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is leading incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) in the Silver State. The Georgia Senate contest will advance to a runoff in December since neither Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) nor former football star Herschel Walker managed to secure a majority on Tuesday.
Similar opposition has emerged against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from members of the House Freedom Caucus. Roughly two dozen members are willing to vote against the lawmaker in his bid for becoming Speaker of the House if he does not offer them concessions, according to a report from CNN. In an opinion piece for The Washington Examiner, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) criticized leadership within his party for failing to “produce the kind of concrete plan and bold strategy” required under the Biden administration.
“The House ‘leadership’ play, from top to bottom, was to offer an eleventh-hour, tepid, and weak ‘Commitment to America,’ which few people knew about, much less cared about, and which said both everything and nothing,” Roy contended. “Perhaps well-intentioned to involve rank-and-file members through ‘task forces,’ the leadership failed to produce the kind of concrete plan and bold strategy the moment required.”