McConnell, Rest Of GOP Senate Leadership, Re-Elected Unanimously

For all of the controversy that many in the media tried to drum up during the General Election about Republican candidates for the Senate who wouldn’t necessarily commit to supporting Mitch McConnell to lead the Senate Republican Caucus, and thus become Senate Majority Leader in January, he ended up being re-elected unanimously:

Senate Republicans have unanimously elected Mitch McConnell to be majority leader.

There was little drama heading into the vote, as no one had emerged to challenge the Kentucky Republican after the party’s triumph in last week’s midterm elections.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire nominated McConnell, according to a GOP source inside the room, and Sen.-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas gave a seconding speech. He won a voice vote without opposition and was treated to a standing ovation.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was likewise selected, by voice vote without contention, as the party’s whip. He was nominated by Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and seconded by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota will reprise his role as conference chairman, also winning a voice vote. He was nominated by Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and seconded by Sen.-elect Cory Gardner of Colorado.

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming will continue as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.

Notwithstanding the threats of Tea Party inspired challenges, this isn’t at all surprising. With victory, there’s no reason for the Senate GOP Caucus to change horses at this point.

Things are not quite so calm over on the Democratic side, where outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid may be in trouble:

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said Thursday that she would not support Harry Reid as minority leader of the Senate Democratic caucus.

McCaskill voiced her opposition to Reid as minority leader ahead of the Senate leadership elections.

“It’s a matter of sending a message to the American people that we need to change things,” McCaskill said according to Politico. “Change the way we’re doing things. This is about perception, it’s not about reality.It’s about the perception that we need to change things, it’s just that simple. It’s just simple common sense.”

Politico then asked McCaskill if she would vote for Reid for minority leader.

“I will not,” McCaskill said.

Whether McCaskill’s announcement is the first sign of a rebellion against Reid or not is unclear, but Reid’s own concern about his position can, possibly, be seen in Politico’s report that he is working on a plan to bring freshman Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren into leadership in some as-yet unspecified role:

Senate Democrats are enlisting progressive firebrand Elizabeth Warren to be a member of their leadership team, likely to serve as a liaison to liberal groups.

Harry Reid, the incoming Senate minority leader, is engaged in private talks with the Massachusetts freshman to create a special leadership post for the former Harvard professor, according to several people familiar with the matter.

In the new position, Warren is expected to serve as a go between to liberal groups to ensure their voice is part of the leadership’s private deliberations, a source said. She would be part of the messaging and policy team.

Adding Warren, Democrats say, would bring in a nationally known name who could help sharpen the Democratic message as it goes toe-to-toe with the new Senate Republican majority. The move would likely be viewed favorably by an increasingly liberal caucus.

But elevating Warren could also be seen as an indication that the new Senate Democratic minority is less interested in bipartisan compromises,even as the White House and Senate Republicans are signaling they want to cut deals in the new Congress.

The position was discussed at a closed-door Senate Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday. At that meeting, Reid — along with his chief deputies, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Chuck Schumer of New York and Patty Murray of Washington state — are all expected to be elected, respectively, to the top four posts in the new Democratic minority. Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a second-term Democrat, is expected to be named chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, sources say.

Senate Democrats will hold their leadership election shortly, and the elections for Democratic and Republican House members will be held this afternoon. In that case, there are no changes expected in Republican leadership, and there seems to be little prospect of changes in the House Democratic leadership either.

Update: Reid was re-elected leader easily, and Warren has been given a still unspecified role that appears at first glance to be more about policy than strategy development, which I suppose makes sense.

Over on the House side, meanwhile, John Boehner and the rest of the GOP House leadership team are expected to be easily re-elected since there is no significant Tea Party opposition this time around.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. C. Clavin says:

    You really have to hand it to Turtle-Face…his cynical power-grabbing politics worked like a charm.
    This guy is the embodiment of winning for winnings sake…he actually stands for nothing else.

    Our number one priority is going to be keeping Barack Obama from being reelected.

    Then in the campaign….for him to have the cojones to say that you could keep the good parts of Obamacare, even as he was vowing to “repeal it root and branch,” is just awe inspiring. And the fact that Grimes couldn’t capitalize on that is just pathetic.
    The guy is shear political genius. And the very image of the worst of our political system.

  2. Gustopher says:

    But elevating Warren could also be seen as an indication that the new Senate Democratic minority is less interested in bipartisan compromises

    Because, of course, having a scary liberal anywhere near the leadership is terrifying. It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. She might ask questions.

  3. Tillman says:

    But elevating Warren could also be seen as an indication that the new Senate Democratic minority is less interested in bipartisan compromises, even as the White House and Senate Republicans are signaling they want to cut deals in the new Congress.

    Jesus F***ing Christ, Politico, how asinine are you? Republican Senate leadership spent the last two years signaling that they wanted to work with the president. How did that work out?

    They’re stooped over animal entrails and trying to predict the weather.

  4. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I like your thinking but can you see how ironic this is? The anti-American, socialist cadre that, according to guys like el-Rushbo, “was out to destroy one-third [IIRC] of the American economy” (and singlehandedly did so!!!) need a spokesperson to reach out to the liberals in the country–??????????