Headed into the Tuesday’s midterm elections, Republican leaders expected to end the week celebrating their many successes and making ambitious plans for the next Congress. As we approach close of business on Friday afternoon, GOP merriment has been replaced with GOP disarray.
At the presidential level, Donald Trump is preparing for next week’s launch of his latest national bid while simultaneously rejecting blame for his party’s poor showing and lashing out wildly at potential 2024 rivals. The Republican contingents eager to abandon Trump once and for all are getting louder and more organized, even as the former president scrambles to consolidate support.
How, whether, and when this will be resolved is an open question.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Republican Sen. Rick Scott was reportedly prepared to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but the Floridian apparently backed off in response to the election results. So, the Kentuckian can breathe easy? As Politico reported, not just yet.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is calling for Republican leadership elections to be postponed from their scheduled date on Wednesday, as the fate of the chamber remains undecided. … In a tweet Friday, the Florida Republican called for Republicans to delay the conference’s leadership votes, which were expected to end with McConnell still at the top — despite discussions about a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that got pretty far along.
Rubio’s missive was quickly endorsed by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, and as the day progressed, we learned that Republican Sens. Meaning. Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, and Rick Scott are circulating a letter calling for a postponement in the scheduled leadership vote.
None of this is good news for McConnell, who was already dealing with Trump’s near-daily condemnations and the disappointment stemming from this week’s election results.
But in the House, the disarray is even more severe. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced his bid to succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning — before it was clear which party would even control the chamber. More than two days later, that picture remains murky.
Murkier still is the scope of McCarthy’s support among his own members. As we’ve discussed, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has reportedly made calls to colleagues this week, making the case against the Californian. Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, the chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, was even more public about his skepticism. “I would say maybe not so fast,” the Arizonan said Wednesday when asked about McCarthy’s rise.
A Fox News reporter soon after quoted a Republican source who said, “Knives are out for Kevin McCarthy.”
Rep. Bob Good, another Freedom Caucus member, added yesterday, “I have personally stated that Kevin McCarthy has not done anything to earn my vote.” Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas also indirectly slammed McCarthy today, saying the GOP leader “failed to produce the kind of concrete plan and bold strategy” the party needed ahead of Election Day.
Complicating matters, Trump helps Jason Miller is starting to tie together disparate threads, emphasizing this morning that if McCarthy wants to claim the speaker’s gavel, he must be “much more declarative” in his support for Trump’s 2024 candidacy. Soon after, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik announced her endorsement of the former president’s prospective comeback bid.
At the national level, GOP politics hasn’t been this messy in quite a while. It’s a directionless party, lacking in leadership and vision, that just received an unfriendly verdict from the American electorate, and it clearly has no idea what to do next.