Rick Scott joins three-way Senate leadership race to replace McConnell

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Wednesday announced he will join the race to replace retiring Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), throwing a wild card in the race to head a potential new Senate GOP majority in 2025.

Scott’s decision to jump into the race gives his Senate Republican colleagues a more conservative alternative to Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), who announced their ambitions to succeed McConnell earlier this year.

While Thune and Cornyn are highly respected conservative senators, they haven’t been as willing to challenge McConnell’s leadership as Scott, who has urged Senate Republicans to develop a bold governing agenda and work much more closely with conservative House Republicans.

“This is not a time to make small adjustments, I believe we need a dramatic sea change to save our country and that’s why I’m running to be Republican leader,” Scott announced in a “Dear Colleague” letter circulated Wednesday afternoon.

Scott included a list of eight pledges he is making to his colleagues if elected GOP leader.

He promised to never surprise them with legislation or ask them to vote on something they haven’t had the chance to thoroughly review.

He promised to lead the Republican conference in developing “a positive, aspirational agenda that outlines our legislative goals and what Senate Republicans stand for.”

And he vowed to never pressure colleagues to vote against what they campaigned on or what is not in the interests of their constituents.

Scott said he thinks the GOP leader should be limited to a six-year term and that the appropriations process should follow a “realistic schedule” to keep Congress from relying on continuous resolutions and omnibus packages to fund government.

Scott enters the race as something of an outsider compared to Thune and Cornyn, who have been jockeying for the top leadership job for years.

Thune is the current Senate Republican whip, and Cornyn held that job for six years before stepping down due to term limits.

They are both close allies of McConnell, who will step down as GOP leader at the end of the year but who plans to serve out the rest of his Senate term, which runs through 2026.

Scott, who visited Manhattan last week to show his support for former President Trump during his hush-money trial, has a better relationship with Trump than either Thune or Cornyn.

That could be a major benefit to Scott if Trump defeats President Biden in November and throws his political weight behind the Florida senator.

Trump urged Scott to challenge McConnell for leader two years ago.

He praised Scott at the time as “highly underrated.”

Scott hastily announced he would challenge McConnell after the 2022 election. The short campaign to be elected leader for the 118th Congress became acrimonious as McConnell and Scott and their allies traded blame for the disappointing results of the 2022 midterms, in which Senate Republicans suffered a net loss of one seat.

McConnell defeated Scott 36-10.

Scott, who is running for reelection to a second term, previously said he was “seriously considering” another bid to become GOP leader.

Updated 6:11 p.m.

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