The regular conference lunches held by both parties in the Senate are intended to be a weekly mind-meld—an opportunity for lawmakers to weigh in on issues and get everybody on the same page for upcoming legislative fights. Then there was yesterday’s Republican lunch.
Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy left the meeting, which lasted more than three hours, first. How was it? “Very cordial,” he answered. A bit later, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was talking so loudly he could be heard by reporters waiting outside the room.
By the end of the lunch, Florida Sen. Rick Scott—the current chair of the Republican Senate campaign arm—had channeled the turmoil into an official challenge: He will run for conference leader against Mitch McConnell, the longest-serving Republican leader in Senate history.
“I believe it’s time for the Senate Republican Conference to be far more bold and resolute than we have been in the past,” Scott said in a letter to his colleagues. “I do not believe we can simply continue to say the Democrats are radical, which they are. Republican voters expect and deserve to know our plan to promote and advance conservative values.”