Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Rick Scott Is Trying Again

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is a very ambitious fellow, even in a body noted for ambitious guys and gals. He wants to be president, but when he unveiled his platform, which included ending Social Security and Medicare in 5 years unless Congress explicitly renewed them, he got hooted down. So he set his sights lower: Senate Republican Leader. In 2022, he ran and was crushed by now-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Undaunted, he is trying again for the top position within the Senate Republican caucus.

His goal might be in reach, except for a couple of minor details. First, he is probably the most hated senator not named Ted Cruz in either party. His Republican colleagues, in particular, despise him as he is not a team player at all. Second, there is the John problem. Two other Republicans are vying for McConnell's job in the next Congress, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and John Cornyn (R-TX). Both are well-liked in the caucus and both have been in the leadership before and don't want to upset the applecart. Third, Scott is far more conservative than the average Republican senator. The combination of being an arrogant, unlikable person and being ideologically out of step with the Senate Republican caucus is probably not a winning combo.

Oh, and Scott is against compromise with the Democrats. Unless the Republicans get 60 seats or get 51 and decide to abolish the filibuster, that is a formula for getting nothing done. While House Republicans take great pride in getting nothing done, senators aren't like that. They actually do want to legislate and don't like holding the country for ransom. Scott wrote a letter to his colleagues in which he said: "Republicans all across America want the Republicans they elected to the U.S. Senate to stop caving in to Democrat demands. This is not an unreasonable request or expectation." In other words, it's our way or the highway.

Scott is by far the Trumpiest candidate for party leader, but will Trump endorse him? It's a tricky question. It might not move the needle because senators are a lot smarter than the average Trump supporter and are much better at weighing their options. Also, if Trump endorses Scott and one of the Johns wins, that will certainly lead to a rocky relationship with the new leader. Trump might not want to risk that.

Although Scott is already focused on the leadership election, it is a tad premature. First he has to be reelected to the Senate in November. While he is the favorite, it is not a done deal and in a blue wave in Florida, caused by an abortion initiative on the ballot, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell could conceivably beat him. In any event, a very narrow win in his own election is going to make his Senate colleagues think carefully about whether he has the right stuff. (V)

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