McCarthy and McConnell Fight for Votes as Congressional Leadership Races Heat Up

Lawmakers are furiously whipping votes for the hotly contested leadership elections set to define both parties going into the 118th Congress.


As both parties come to grips with the midterm election results, lawmakers are furiously whipping votes for the hotly contested leadership elections set to define both parties going into the 118th Congress.

  • House Republicans are holding their leadership elections on Tuesday, Nov. 15 while the Senate G.O.P. will select their leader on Wednesday. House Democrats will pick their leadership slate on Nov. 30 while their Senate counterparts will wait until after the Georgia runoff in December.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are pushing ahead with early leadership votes despite calls to delay elections as every House race has been called and the Georgia Senate runoff is still weeks away.
  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Senate Republicans’ campaign chief and a possible McConnell challenger, failed to convince his colleagues to delay the vote.
  • Senate Republicans appeared to close ranks around their leader after Scott’s gambit failed. Conservative Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), a Donald Trump ally, both announced they’d vote for McConnell on Monday.
  • Securing the Speaker’s gavel will prove more challenging for McCarthy. The House Minority Leader only needs a majority of his colleagues to be nominated for speaker but must win 218 votes on the House floor to officially win the Speakership.
  • McCarthy made his pitch to House Republicans on Monday, but the G.O.P.’s minuscule House majority leaves the California Republican little room for error.
  • Given the narrow margin, McCarthy must embark on a “grueling period of hardball negotiations” with wavering conservatives and moderates to “appease their demands and rack up the support” he needs.
  • On the Democratic side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to resign or retire if Democrats lost in a landslide, but she’s changed her tune after House Democrats’ strong night. Now the Speaker appears to be considering another two-year term leading House Democrats, a position she’s held since 2003.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times reported McCarthy’s speakership bid is “facing resistance from a newly emboldened right flank” including Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA), chair of the Freedom Caucus, while Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) came out in favor of the California Republican.
  • A restive right flank isn’t McCarthy’s only concern. According to NBC News, moderate Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) said he’d be willing to work with Democrats to elect a moderate Republican speaker if McCarthy fails to get enough votes on the House floor to win.
  • POLITICO broke the news that President Joe Biden wants Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to remain as Democratic Leader for the remaining two years of Biden’s term. The president told the speaker, “I hope you stick,” in a congratulatory phone call after Democrats’ unexpectedly good midterm performance.



  • The Wall Street Journal reported McCarthy allies called recently reelected Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) over the weekend to see if he would be willing to switch parties to expand the majority. Cuellar rejected the offer, but Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) seized on the reports to attack McCarthy at a closed-door meeting on Monday, but McCarthy denied the allegations.
  • The Washington Examiner covered the expected speakership bid from House Freedom Caucus member Andy Biggs (R-AZ) in more detail. Biggs is a longtime McCarthy critic and has voiced concerns that he “won’t prioritize issues important to the far-right flank of the party.”
  • National Review published dueling pieces making the cases against the two leading candidates for House Majority Whip, Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Tom Emmer (R-MN).
    • Nathan Hochman argued Emmer, the G.O.P. campaign chief, doesn’t deserve the post after failing to deliver a double-digit majority.
    • In response, Bobby Miller wrote picking Banks, a favorite of Trump and Tucker Carlson who doesn’t blame Trump for the G.O.P.’s disappointing midterm results would be “the political equivalent of an alcoholic reaching for the bottle after a terrible bender.”


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© Dominic Moore, 2022