'An all-out war': GOP seniors bitterly clash over midterms results amid calls for an 'NRSC audit'
When Nevada’s 2022 U.S. Senate race was called for incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Democrats knew that they would be keeping their Senate majority in 2023. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knew that he won’t be Senate majority leader next year.
The 2022 midterms have underscored tensions between McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). McConnell, over the summer, complained about the “quality” of Republican Senate candidates who had been nominated, and Scott was offended by McConnell’s comments. The NRSC chairman vigorously defended those Donald Trump-supported Senate candidates.
But as it turned out, those candidates did not perform well. J.D. Vance won in Ohio, but Dr. Mehmet Oz lost to Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania. Democratic Sen. Maggie Hasan was reelected in New Hampshire, and a runoff election will determine whether Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia keeps his seat or is replaced by Trump-supported GOP challenger Herschel Walker. Warnock received more votes than Walker, but the race was close enough for a runoff to be called under Georgia election rules.
On Tuesday, November 15, Scott declared his desire to replace McConnell as GOP leader in the Senate. But the following day, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, “a majority of GOP senators voted to elect McConnell” as their leader for 2023. It’s official: McConnell, not Scott, will be the top Republican in the U.S. Senate next year.
Further illustrating the post-midterms tensions among Republican senators is a call for the NRSC to be audited. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt, in an article published on November 16, reports that on November 15, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina “said there should be an independent review of how the party’s campaign arm spent its resources before falling short of its goal of winning the majority.”
Isenstadt reports, “The back and forth is part of an all-out war enveloping the party following last week’s election. Over the past week, the political operations aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and NRSC Chair Rick Scott (Fla.) have clashed openly, blaming the other for the disappointing outcome — even before Scott launched a longshot leadership challenge to McConnell.”
Isenstadt also reports that “according to two people familiar with the discussion, Blackburn told Scott during the meeting that there needed to be an accounting of how money was spent, and that it was important for senators to have a greater understanding of how and why key decisions involving financial resources were made.”
“To move forward, Blackburn said, the party needed to determine what mistakes were made,” Isenstadt reports. “Tillis spoke out in support of the idea, arguing that there should also be a review of the committee’s spending during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, which would allow for a comparison to be made.
Scott, meanwhile, is alleging that before he was NRSC chairman, there were “hundreds of thousands of dollars in unauthorized and improper bonuses” at the NRSC.
Business Insider has reported that a former NRSC aide is vehemently critical of Scott’s tenure as NRSC chairman and believes that he seriously mishandled the 2022 midterms.
That aide told Business Insider, “Sen. Scott will go down as one of the worst campaign chairmen in recent Senate history.” And the aide, interviewed on condition of anonymity, added that Scott should “focus on his home state” and “leave the national political arena to the grown-ups."
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