United States Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) revealed on Monday that he would not support reinstating Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) as majority leader if Republicans retake control of the upper congressional chamber in the Tuesday midterm elections.
"I don't imagine I will, no," Hawley told Springfield News-Ledger government and politics reporter Galen Bacharier during a campaign stop for Missouri's GOP Attorney General and Senate candidate Eric Schmitt, who refused to "endorse" McConnell during the primary races. "I stand by what I said," he affirmed to Bacharier on Monday.
Hawley conceded that "I'm not sure if any other senator will run or not. Nobody's indicated they would. But my view is that we need new leadership in that position." Bacharier further reported that "Hawley ticked off a list of decisions over the last 2 years he disagreed on - Ukraine funding, infrastructure & public safety bills, campaign spending in AZ/NH. 'I did not agree with the idea that you go out there and badmouth our own candidates in the middle of an election,'" Hawley explained to Bacharier.
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Hawley is one of the most conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill and aligns himself with former President Donald Trump's right-wing Make America Great Again movement. Despite having latched onto Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, Hawley fled when the Capitol was attacked and the congressional chambers were breached. Afterward, Hawley along with Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Rick Scott (R-Florida), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) objected to certifying President Joe Biden's Electoral College victories over Trump in Arizona and Pennsylvania. When Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives for inciting the insurrection, McConnell led the effort to acquit Trump in the Senate's trial, even though he blamed Trump personally for igniting the deadly siege.
Nonetheless, there are signs that McConnell's sway over his party's conference could be waning, regardless of whether he truly believes that he "has the votes" to remain in charge. As Hawley pointed out, there is no clear frontrunner to succeed McConnell, who is eighty, if a mutiny manifests inside the devoted Trump wing of the Republican caucus.
On Sunday's edition of Meet the Press, Rick Scott – the chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee whose relationship with McConnell has frayed over policy differences – refused to rule out challenging McConnell for the leadership role. “I’m not focused on anything except getting a majority Tuesday night,” Scott responded to a question posed on the matter by moderator Chuck Todd. When Todd noted that Scott's reply was a "non-answer," Scott simply repeated that he is “focused” on the midterms.
Arizona's Trump-backed Senate hopeful Blake Masters also declined to give McConnell the nod. “I certainly think we need new leadership,” Blake said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday evening. McConnell, Masters declared, “will not own me, McConnell doesn't love me. And clearly, he had a chance to help. He didn't do it" and "he doesn't want me in there, but he's about to be stuck with me.”