Mitch McConnell Comes Out on Top

Sen. Joni Ernst looks on as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell smiles during a news conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell emerged from the Old Senate Chamber on Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican offered a thumbs-up to the flashing cameras nearby. 

He had just overcome Sen. Rick Scott’s challenge to remain Republican leader in the Senate by a vote of 36-10. One senator voted present. “I’m pretty proud of 37-10,” he told reporters, flanked by his new leadership team.

The challenge to McConnell was largely symbolic—expressing frustration from a small wing of Senate Republicans but ultimately futile in unseating McConnell as leader. It’s unclear what the dust-up means for the conference’s cohesion, with at least two more years of being the minority party in the Senate.

That the vote was held Wednesday was a McConnell victory in itself: Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had sought to delay it until after the runoff elections in Georgia, but Republicans voted 32-16 in favor of holding the elections as scheduled. 

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