New DC Question: Is McConnell in Trouble?

Critics in Senate are grumbling about losing to Democrats, want leadership election delayed
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2022 8:59 AM CST
New DC Question: Is McConnell in Trouble?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Soon after news broke Saturday night that Democrats had clinched control of the Senate, conservative Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri delivered his succinct assessment: "The old party is dead," he tweeted, per Fox News. "Time to bury it. Build something new." The details of what that means in tangible terms were not immediately clear, but the sentiment may not bode well for Mitch McConnell's future as leader of Senate Republicans. The Hill rounds up multiple GOP senators—Hawley, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rick Scott and Ted Cruz—who want next week's leadership elections postponed.

“First we need to make sure that those who want to lead us are genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities & values of the working Americans (of every background) who gave us big wins in states like #Florida," Rubio wrote in his request for a delay. Johnson, Scott, and Lee, meanwhile, were circulating a letter among fellow Republicans seeking a postponement for the leadership vote. “We are all disappointed that a Red Wave failed to materialize, and there are multiple reasons it did not,” they wrote, per the Hill. “We need to have serious discussions within our conference as to why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024.”

During the campaign, McConnell had publicly grumbled about "candidate quality," and the criticism angered grassroots conservatives and former President Trump, per Politico. Had Republicans won the majority, Scott—who is in charge of the Senate campaign arm—would likely have challenged McConnell for the leadership post, according to Politico. However, he has reportedly changed his mind now that the GOP will again be in the minority. One criticism of McConnell raised by Hawley is that he didn't offer specific policy alternatives to Democrats. "Not enough to say the other side is no good," he wrote. "Have to offer an actual agenda."

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Hawley also felt McConnell and top Republicans didn't do enough on crime, allowed too much spending on climate initiatives, and made a crucial mistake in suggesting that changes were necessary on Medicare and Social Security, per Real Clear Politics. Republicans should instead have run on a platform of “tougher tariffs on China, reshoring American jobs, opening up American energy full throttle, and putting 100,000 new cops on the street.” (More 2022 midterms stories.)

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