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.