Florida's Rick Scott to Challenge for GOP Senate Leader Job


Rick Scott, the junior of Florida’s two United States senators, has confirmed he’ll be vying to replace Mitch McConnell as the leader of the Senate’s Republican faction. McConnell, the GOP Senate Leader since January 2007, announced in February that he’d be relinquishing the post in November 2024.

This isn’t the first time Scott has made a play to become the top Senate Republican – in 2022 he challenged McConnell directly, but fell well short of the majority vote from his peers to take the seat. Still, enough of Scott’s colleagues supported his bid that another try may have seemed viable.

The Outlook of the Race

Scott was criticized during that time for a twelve-point ‘Rescue America’ plan he released without party coordination, which among other things proposed mandating the Pledge of Allegiance in school, naming a completed border wall after Donald Trump, and sunsetting all federal legislation after five years unless it can pass again. That initially included Social Security, Medicare, and veterans benefits until Scott carved out exceptions for such programs. His plan has not been adopted.

Scott will compete against at least two other Republicans to become McConnell’s successor. So far South Dakota’s John Thune and Texas’ John Cornyn have also confirmed their intent to pursue the GOP Senate leadership. The vote will be held later this year among GOP senators, behind closed doors out of the public eye.

“I believe that our voters want us to use this leadership election to make a choice to upend the status quo in Washington,” Scott said in a letter to his colleagues, reported by ABC News. “If you also believe this to be true and want a leader dedicated to that principle, I would be honored to have the opportunity to earn your support.”

Career Background

Rick Scott was elected to the Senate in 2018, narrowly defeating the incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, a former astronaut who now serves as Administrator of NASA. Prior to that, Scott served two terms as Florida’s Governor, from 2010 to 2018. He was a pharmaceutical executive prior to holding elected office, in the late 90’s avoiding prosecution for his role in the largest Medicare fraud in United States history.

In 2010 Scott ran for Governor of Florida, his first political campaign, defeating Alex Sink by 1.15% of the vote. He then secured a second term by besting former Governor Charlie Crist by an even closer 1.07% margin. The senatorial win over Nelson was by 0.13%.

Scott’s efforts to take the top spot in the Senate GOP will technically hinge on his ability to be re-elected this November to a second six-year term in office. Several Democrats have lined up to face him, including former U.S. Representatives Alan Grayson and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, former state legislator Brian Rush, and businessmen Stanley Campbell and Rod Joseph. Most pollsters have predicted a re-election win for Scott.