Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday said he is confident Republican senators will reelect him as GOP Senate leader on Wednesday after failing to reclaim the Senate from Democrats.
“Of course,” McConnell responded to Capitol Hill reporters.
McConnell only needs a simple majority of the Republican conference votes to remain the GOP leader. The vote will take place by secret ballot and behind closed doors. No Republican appears to be challenging McConnell.
If McConnell receives enough votes, he will be the longest serving party Senate leader in history, surpassing Mike Mansfield.
About eight Senate Republicans have tried to delay Wednesday’s vote, citing the undecided Georgia Senate race. But after Sen. Mark Kelly’s (D-AZ) victory over Republican Blake Masters on Saturday night, Democrats retained the Senate, diminishing the importance of the Georgia Senate seat.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), who is McConnell’s lieutenant and in charge of holding the election, has confirmed the vote will be held in spite of objections. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the second highest ranking Senate Republican, said delaying the vote will not change the outcome.
“I think we need to move forward,” Thune told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s nothing that’s going to change as a result of delaying.”
On Monday, 72 Republican leaders signed a letter stating that “there should be no rushed leadership elections” until the Georgia Senate race is concluded in January.
“Conservative Members of the House and Senate have called for the leadership elections to be delayed. We strongly urge both Houses of Congress to postpone the formal Leadership elections until after the December 6 runoff in Georgia and all election results are fully decided,” the members wrote.
“The Republican Party needs leaders who will confidently and skillfully present a persuasive coherent vision of who we are, what we stand for, and what we will do,” they added.
The scheduled Senate leadership vote will likely take place amid criticism of McConnell’s leadership during the 2022 midterms. The McConnell-backed super PAC defunded New Hampshire’s Gen. Don Bolduc and Arizona Blake Masters in the general election while backing pro-impeachment Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) against Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka. Both Murkowski and McConnell have been censured by the Alaska Republican Party.