McConnell reelected as Senate GOP leader
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was elected to his eighth term as GOP leader on Tuesday.
McConnell was reelected unanimously, an aide confirmed.
McConnell, who first became Republican leader in 2007, has held the position longer than any other senator.
The closed-door GOP elections on Tuesday come as control of the chamber next year remains in limbo with two Senate races in Georgia going to runoffs on Jan. 5.
“We’re ready to get going even though there’s some suspense about exactly whether we’ll be in the majority or not,” McConnell said after the meeting, during which rounds of clapping could be heard outside the room.
In addition to McConnell, Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) were re-elected to their leadership posts.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) was elected to chair the Senate GOP campaign arm for the 2022 cycle, where Republicans will be defending at least 22 seats depending on the outcome of the Georgia special elections.
“We’ve got great candidates for the 2022 cycle, we’re going to recruit others and we’re going to continue to have a Republican majority,” Scott told reporters.
Republicans were widely expected by political prognosticators to lose the Senate during the 2020 election. Instead they will have at least 50 seats starting in January, and could get 51 or 52 seats if they win one or both Georgia seats.
Republican leadership took a victory lap during their post-election press conference.
“Every predictor of what was going to happen in the elections was wrong. The president wasn’t defeated by huge numbers, in fact he might not have been defeated at all,” Blunt said.
The GOP powwow comes as President Trump has not yet conceded the White House race to President-elect Biden, who has been projected to win the presidential election.
Republicans are largely sticking by Trump, refusing to get ahead of his legal challenges and shooting down questions about if he should concede.
McConnell, asked about heads of states congratulating Biden, said Trump exercising legal options “should not be alarming” and that the electoral college will determine the winner once battleground states certify the results.
“Until the electoral college votes anyone who is running for office can exhaust concerns about counting in any court. …That’s not unusual,” McConnell said.
But Republican senators said that they did not discuss the president’s legal fights much during the closed-door meeting, which lasted for more than an hour.
“Not really,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), when asked if there was discussion of the White House battle. “It was more about, like I say, what was the conference going to do, knowing that we’re in the midst of that as well, but to stay kind of oriented towards the general policy concerns that we’ve got in mind and mostly focused on our new members.”