Updated May 22, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Rick Scott jumps into race for Senate GOP leader

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) speaks to members of the media during a rally

Sen. Rick Scott speaks to members of the media during a rally. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) jumped into the race for Senate Republican leader on Wednesday night and asked his colleagues for their support, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will step down from the position next year, setting up a fight over who will lead the party in the chamber.

  • Scott mounted a failed bid against McConnell during the last leadership election in 2022. This time, he will be up against Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), who has been favored so far, and John Cornyn (R-Texas).
  • Scott could be an attractive choice for some conservatives, as both Thune and Cornyn are viewed as McConnell allies.
  • Unlike Scott, Thune and Cornyn have both have had troubled relationships with former President Trump.

The big picture: Senate Republicans have expected a third, more conservative, candidate to jump into the race for leader.

  • Scott sent a letter to his colleagues Wednesday night announcing his intent to run, according to a letter obtained by Axios.
  • Trump has also encouraged Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who currently chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to run for leader. If Republicans decidedly take back the chamber in November, it could set up Daines for a run.

What he's saying: "Now is a moment we need dramatic change," Scott wrote in a letter sent to colleagues Wednesday.

  • "I believe that our voters want us to use this leadership election to make a choice to upend the status quo in Washington."
  • Scott touted his closeness with Trump, saying next year senators "will need to work closely with President Trump" and adding that he has known Trump since before either ran for political office.
  • "As Republican leader, I will protect senators' interests while helping President Trump accomplish his goals, he continued.
  • Scott argued for a six-year term limit on the position and for providing more time for individual appropriations bills to get passed before the Oct. 1 deadline. He also said he wants to ensure bills go through committees and that senators are offered robust opportunities to offer amendments.

Zoom out: Over the last two years, Scott has met regularly with a group of conservative senators who are keen to make changes to how the Senate operates and has hosted dinners at his home with House Freedom Caucus members.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional reporting.

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