Rick Scott launches long-shot bid to unseat Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader
AUSTIN–Republican Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana is trying to oust Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as leader of the Senate GOP.
Scott, 63, a former state party chairman who is locked in a tight race against Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana’s 5th District, is betting he can seize control from McConnell, 80, who is up for reelection this fall and is expected to coast to reelection.
Pence has made no secret of his desire to oust McConnell from the Senate Republican Conference gavel, which he hopes to do in what his supporters consider his best chance at defeating McConnell, a 70-year-old who was the first major-party senator elected when he won the Senate in 1994.
“Today is my goal,” Pence told supporters in a brief speech at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce on Friday. “It’s the goal of every Republican and conservative because this is a party that has to stop the left and stop the liberal agenda and the agenda of global socialism in America. …
“And I know Mitch McConnell has the ability to defeat this president in November.”
Pence said he is confident he can get 60 votes to take over from McConnell. He also said he is working with Messer, who is running for the 5th District seat in what is likely to be one of the nation’s closest Senate races.
“I’m willing to work with Congressman Luke Messer,” he said. “We are not bitter and the people, and I mean the people, I’m talking about voters, we’re not bitter. They’re coming with me.”
Pence also called on supporters to help convince GOP members of the U.S. House of Representatives, especially freshman Democrats, to support his efforts to unseat McConnell. A day after his speech, he announced a series of events in which he and Messer are expected to meet with Republicans from both the House and Senate.
Pence also urged Republican members to contact their Democratic colleagues to tell them to vote to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s pick for a new Supreme Court justice.
The Indiana congressman and former state party chairman has been involved in a series of public feuds with Republicans in Washington and has been