Nov 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Some in GOP take aim at McConnell after Senate loss

 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the Capitol on Nov. 15.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A handful of prominent Republicans are publicly blaming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the party's failure to take back control of the Senate after major losses in Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.

Why it matters: A civil war has erupted within the GOP over its underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterms, and it could lead to changes in the party's congressional and national leadership teams.

  • Conservatives in and outside Congress have attempted to pressure McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to postpone GOP leadership elections, Axios' Andrew Solender reports.

What they're saying: Former President Trump said on social media Sunday that the midterm outcome is "Mitch McConnell’s fault."

  • "Spending money to defeat great Republican candidates instead of backing Blake Masters and others was a big mistake,” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) criticized McConnell on his podcast, “Verdict,” on Monday, saying the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund canceling $9.6 million in television ads for the Arizona Senate race was "indefensible."
  • "Because Masters said he would vote against Mitch McConnell. And so Mitch would rather be leader than have a Republican majority. If there’s a Republican who can win who’s not going to support Mitch, the truth of the matter is he’d rather the Democrat win," Cruz said.

Meanwhile, former Trump White House senior adviser Stephen Miller also blamed the Arizona loss on the Senate Leadership Fund pulling the money for TV ads for Masters.

  • There was also a public spat between aides to McConnell and GOP campaign arm chair Rick Scott (R-Fla.) in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Criticism of McConnell from the Scott camp continued Tuesday, with an aide to Scott questioning the GOP leader's spending strategy in the Georgia Senate runoff race, per NBC News.
  • Scott is reportedly considering running against McConnell for the top leadership position.

Yes, but: Trump has taken a large share of the blame for the party's performance after many of his handpicked candidates were defeated or struggled in what were seen as otherwise winnable races.

  • McConnell has also had a firm grip on the top Republican spot in the upper chamber for years, and right-wing figures such as Cruz and Trump have publicly feuded with the Kentucky Republican before.

The big picture: Republicans have the opportunity to maintain 50 seats in the Senate if Republican Herschel Walker defeats incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in the Dec. 6 Georgia runoff.

  • Scott and Cruz have joined Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in calling for leadership elections to be delayed until the Georgia race is over.

Go deeper: GOP civil war erupts at every level of national party

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