Florida GOP Senate hopeful won't endorse McConnell for leader
© Haiyun Jiang

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a GOP Senate hopeful, has said he's not supporting Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa House Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE (Ky.) as the leader of Senate Republicans.

“I have declined to endorse McConnell for reelection, and let’s be honest — if he lets a liberal justice onto the Supreme Court, he’s not going to be the majority leader. We know that, that’s not going to fly,” DeSantis told attendees at an April 10 forum sponsored by the Republican Liberty Caucus of Central East Florida, according to footage obtained by The Hill.

ADVERTISEMENT

DeSantis suggested Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeBiden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week MORE (R-Utah) as “exactly the type of guy who would do a great job as a leader in the U.S. Senate.”

Lee is currently jockeying for chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and has been endorsed by FreedomWorks for that position.

FreedomWorks is among the Tea Party groups — including the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), Tea Party Express and the Club for Growth — that have already endorsed DeSantis, a House Freedom Caucus member, in his Senate bid against a crowded field of GOP opponents.

Tea Party Express, FreedomWorks and the SCF don’t have fond feelings about McConnell as majority leader, with the latter two endorsing McConnell’s 2014 Senate primary challenger.

The race to replace Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioBipartisan congressional commission urges IOC to postpone, relocate Beijing Games Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers MORE, who will vacate the seat at the end of his term following a failed bid for the GOP presidential nomination, has drawn a crowded Republican primary field that also includes fellow Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, businessman Todd Wilcox and millionaire Carlos Beruff.

The winner will go on to face one of the two Democratic lawmakers vying for their party's nomination: Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio Demings raises Democrats' hopes in uphill fight to defeat Rubio Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor MORE

Wilcox, Beruff and Jolly did not return requests for clarify whether they'd support McConnell's reelection as leader. Lopez-Cantera referred to any prediction of who he’d support for majority leader as “presumptious” in a campaign statement while traveling in Israel.

“As I currently meet with our allies in Israel, I am still extremely disappointed in the Senate's failure to even vote on the Iran Deal, let alone stop it,” he said, noting that he hopes to grow the economy and improve education if elected.

“I would support a leader who supports those goals and is willing to work with me in achieving them,” he added.