Key GOP lawmakers call for leadership change after failed ‘red wave’

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


The finger-pointing continues among key Republicans after the sweeping victories expected from the midterm elections failed to materialize.

Democrats managed to defy history, record-high inflation, and a largely unpopular president to retain control of the Senate, surprising even themselves. Meanwhile, the fate of the House, which many believed was going to be a landslide victory for the GOP, remains uncertain nearly a week after election day.

The first trickles of criticism levied at Republican leadership last week swelled over the weekend to a steady and very public stream of accusations that Republican leaders spectacularly misfired in every way — from messaging to allocating funds — as prominent members of the Grand Old Party called for a changing of the guard.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Saturday declared that the old Republican Party “is dead” on the heels of news that Nevada incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez, considered the most vulnerable Democrat in this year’s general election, was projected to beat Republican challenger Adam Laxalt in a hotly contested race. 

“The old party is dead,” Hawley wrote in a tweet late Saturday. “Time to bury it. Build something new.”

The primary target of all the ire, of course, is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has led the Senate Republican Conference since 2007.

At a time when between 70 and 80% of Americans have, in poll after poll, said that they believe the country is “headed in the wrong direction,” Hawley said the Republican party failed to offer a clear and viable alternative to the Biden agenda. 

“You can’t expect independent voters to vote Republican unless you give them an agenda they care about,” the Missouri Senator said in a tweet on Friday.

Hawley also wrote that “Washington Republicanism lost big” on Election Day because of failed priorities.

“When your ‘agenda’ is cave to Big Pharma on insulin, cave to Schumer on gun control & Green New Deal (‘infrastructure’), and tease changes to Social Security and Medicare, you lose,” he said.

“What are Republicans actually going to do for working people?” Hawley added. “How about, to start: tougher tariffs on China, restore American jobs, open up American energy full throttle, 100k new cops on the street. Unrig the system.”

Hawley’s is but one voice among a growing chorus of high-profile lawmakers calling for a major overhaul. 

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called for a vote on the GOP’s leadership to be postponed, stating in a Friday tweet, “First we need to make sure that those who want to lead us are genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities & values of the working Americans (of every background) who gave us big wins in states like Florida.” 

Hawley concurred, adding that the vote should be delayed until after the runoff election in Georgia between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

“Exactly right. I don’t know why Senate GOP would hold a leadership vote for the next Congress before this election is finished. We have a runoff in #GASenate – are they saying that doesn’t matter? Don’t disenfranchise @HerschelWalker.

Rubio’s fellow Florida Senator, Rick Scott, along with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), circulated a letter asking their colleagues to postpone leadership elections currently scheduled for next week, Politico reported.

“We need to have serious discussions within our conference as to why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024,” the lawmakers said. 

“Holding leadership elections without hearing from the candidates as to how they will perform their leadership duties and before we know whether we will be in the majority or even who all our members are violates the most basic principles of a democratic process. It is certainly not the way leadership elections should be conducted in the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the letter reads.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis have both also expressed support for postponing the vote.

The vote goes on

These calls notwithstanding, Senate Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told GOP senators on Friday that the party will move forward with leadership elections on Wednesday and said that he welcomes a “robust” discussion about the party’s agenda, suggesting a meeting on Tuesday “so every senator has a chance to be heard.”

Meanwhile, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is also facing mounting opposition, particularly from members of the House Freedom Caucus who are seeking to block his bid to become the next speaker of the House, though Republicans have yet to acquire the 218 seats needed to gain a majority. Around two dozen members have said that they are prepared to vote against McCarthy, according to a CNN report.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) slammed party leadership for failing to “produce the kind of concrete plan and bold strategy” needed to counter the policies of the Biden administration.

“The House ‘leadership’ play, from top to bottom, was to offer an eleventh-hour, tepid, and weak ‘Commitment to America,’ which few people knew about, much less cared about, and which said both everything and nothing,” Roy wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Examiner. “Perhaps well-intentioned to involve rank-and-file members through ‘task forces,’ the leadership failed to produce the kind of concrete plan and bold strategy the moment required.”

Arizona Senatorial candidate Blake Masters, who lost his bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, slammed McCarthy’s spending priorities in the 2022 campaign cycle.

“The people who control the purse strings, Senate Leadership Fund, Mitch McConnell — McConnell decided to spend millions of dollars attacking a fellow Republican in Alaska instead of helping me defeat Senator Mark Kelly,” Masters told Fox News on Friday ahead of his defeat.

“Had he chosen to spend money in Arizona, this race would be over and we’d be celebrating a Senate Majority right now,” he said. “And so my message to the people of America, my message to actually my, the Republican senators, hopefully my future colleagues, let’s not vote Mitch McConnell into leadership. He doesn’t deserve to be majority leader or minority leader.”

This article was partially informed by Newsweek, Politico, The Daily Wire, The Federalist, and The New York Post reports.