An alternative to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s RINO dominance has finally emerged.
On Tuesday, Florida Senator Rick Scott officially threw his hat in the ring to challenge Mr. McConnell for the GOP’s top leadership position. Mr. McConnell’s opposition is well-earned and deserved.
Mr. McConnell prefers a conference he can control. His worst nightmare is having to deal with independent-minded, conservative Republicans who place their love of the nation above the power-grabbing, self-serving swamp. Mr. McConnell hated the tea party. He hates Trump. He loathes change and any threat to the party establishment.
In August, Mr. McConnell’s-aligned super PAC Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) called off its advertisement reservations in the hotly contested race in Arizona.
A month later Mr. McConnell canceled more than $9 million worth of ads for MAGA-endorsed Blake Masters, allowing him to be significantly outspent by incumbent Mark Kelly. In October, SLF also pulled $5.6 million in funding from “America First” Don Bolduc’s tightly contested race in New Hampshire, allowing Maggie Hassan’s ads to go unanswered in the final two weeks of the election.
Instead of investing in Arizona or New Hampshire, Mr. McConnell decided it best to pour money into RINO Lisa Murkowski’s campaign in Alaska – a state not in jeopardy of a Democratic pickup – smearing Trump-endorsed candidate Kelly Tshibaka, with more than $5 million in attack ads.
“The millions of dollars Mitch McConnell is spending on lies about me could be put to better use in other states where a Republican has a chance to beat a Democrat,” Ms. Tshibaka said in October when the Alaska GOP voted to censure Mr. McConnell for interfering in their election process.
Mr. Masters and Mr. Bolduc went on to lose close, winnable races. They just weren’t the “right” kind of Republicans for Mr. McConnell.
Mr. McConnell did believe there was a chance for a pickup in Colorado, however. SLF invested $1.25 million in Trump-hating Joe O’Dea. Mr. O’Dea ran as a centrist and said he’d be willing to buck his party, much like Sen. Joe Manchin, if elected. His race was among the first called on Election Night, with Mr. O’Dea blown out by 14 percentage points to the winning Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet.
But, but, but, Mr. McConnell’s allies will say – he spent $241 bailing out Trump-backed candidates like J.D. Vance in Ohio, Hershel Walker in Georgia, and Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. True, but the money came in late – after Democrats spent the summer painting Republicans as radical – and with him holding his nose.
It was Mr. McConnell who, in August, undermined the entire GOP Senatorial field by downplaying election expectations, citing “candidate quality” issues.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different – they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” he said at a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He reiterated the sentiment on Tuesday.
Never would a Democrat so willingly throw other Democratic candidates under the bus.
Mr. McConnell also refused to release a 2023 GOP governing agenda, believing Republicans could win as a referendum on the Biden administration alone. He publicly rebuked Mr. Scott’s “11-point plan to rescue America,” in March, and said if Republicans were to win the majority in November, he, and he alone, would decide the party’s course.
“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide in consultation with my members what to put on the floor,” Mr. McConnell told reporters in March, thereby giving GOP Senatorial candidates nothing to run on and for.
Mr. Scott’s plan wasn’t perfect – but at least it was something. And something always beats nothing – especially when it comes to Mr. McConnell’s record under the Biden administration.
Under McConnell’s tenure, the national debt has soared to more than $31 trillion, due in part to his conference’s caving on Mr. Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation and a technology and manufacturing bill. He handed Democrats a bipartisan victory by voting with them to curb the second amendment, passing a so-called “gun safety” (read: control) bill. The self-proclaimed “grim reaper” has done little to block and kill the Biden agenda.
Meanwhile, illegal immigration has gone on unabated, there’s been no accountability at the CDC (or by Dr. Anthony Fauci) for school lockdown and mask policies, and we still don’t know where the COVID-19 virus originated from.
Even if Mr. Scott’s challenge to Mr. McConnell is unsuccessful, it does put a chink in Mr. McConnell’s armor that will eventually lead others to exploit it.
It’s about time.
Mitch McConnell needs to go. No one’s rule should last forever.
• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor at The Washington Times.