What exactly is Rick Scott trying to accomplish?

Senator Rick Scott, who as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee just oversaw a dismal midterm performance, is challenging Senator Mitch McConnell for the position of Senate minority leader.

Scott’s spokesman, McKinley Lewis, confirmed the leadership challenge, which caught many Senate Republicans by surprise. 

The Florida senator, who currently chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, laid out his case to become next Senate GOP leader in a three-page “Dear Colleague” letter circulated Tuesday.  

“I believe it’s time for the Senate Republican Conference to be far more bold and resolute that we have been in the past. We must start saying what we are for, not just what we are against,” he wrote.  

He promised that if elected leader he would “never surprise you with legislation and ask that you vote on something you haven’t had an opportunity to review.” 

He also pledged “to always work to be transparent with each of you and to bring the conference together” and to “lead the conference in developing a positive, aspirational agenda that outlines our legislative goals and what Senate Republicans stand for.” 

“I humbly ask for your vote as your next Republican Leader,” he concluded. 

Scott had contemplated announcing his leadership bid last week but decided not to after Republicans failed to capture the Senate majority on Election Day.  

What exactly is he trying to accomplish?

McConnell is not responsible for the Republican rout. While he deserves some blame, the case against him is largely misguided. For over a decade, McConnell has been a bulwark against progressive excesses. Conservatives should be pleased with how he shepherded President Trump’s judicial nominees through the confirmation process, ultimately leading to Roe’s demise. Some may argue that McConnell could have handled the second impeachment trial better. Nonetheless, he’s best equipped to deliver for the GOP.

Scott, on the other hand, lacks the requisite political acumen. He’s culpable for the abysmal performance of many of the Republican senatorial candidates and offers a nonsensical alternative to the party’s agenda that would “mean raising taxes on about half the country.” If anything, McConnell’s nationalist-populist critics should scoff at the idea of supporting Scott.

Scott’s vacuous candidacy raises questions about what he’s up to. Is he genuinely bothered by what he sees as the shortcomings of McConnell’s tenure, or does he simply see an opening? It’s likely the latter — a cynical ploy to become the Senate GOP’s top dog. Let’s hope the Republican conference sees through it.

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