Tensions emerge between GOP Sens. McConnell and Graham

The Hill reports that “tensions boiled over” between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Linsey Graham (R-SC) this week. 

“Graham, one of the Senate’s highest-profile Republicans, sharply criticized McConnell’s leadership of the Senate GOP conference during a private meeting this week,” the outlet reports.

Background

Following the midterm elections, McConnell pushed forward to secure control of the top Republican spot in the U.S. Senate.

A number of Republicans, however, came out in opposition to McConnell’s leadership, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and others. These Republicans took issue with McConnell’s leadership over the past number of years as well as with the way that McConnell handled – or mishandled – the midterm elections.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) came forward as an alternative candidate to McConnell. But, McConnell was able to stave off Scott’s challenge.

On Wednesday, Senate Republican leadership elections were held, and McConnell came out on top with 37 votes for and 10 votes against his leadership. One senator voted “present.”

It was a disappointing result for Republicans looking to move on from McConnell, not happy with his leadership. But, it’s not all bad news.

The good news

There is some good news for those looking to move on from McConnell’s leadership: McConnell’s grip on his leadership position appears to have been seriously weakened.

For one thing, McConnell received 10 “no” votes. This is significant because it is the first time McConnell has ever received a “No” vote as the leader of the Senate Republicans.

Another good sign that McConnell is losing his grip is the fact that he actually faced opposition from the likes of Sen. Graham. Graham has admitted that he voted for Scott to lead the Senate GOP because he thought that a change was needed. This came as a surprise to many who were under the impression that Graham was a close ally of McConnell.

So, there are clear signs that McConnell’s grip on his Senate leadership post is slipping and that it might just slip entirely from his grasp by the next leadership elections.

Don’t expect McConnell to idly let this happen, though. Many are anticipating that McConnell may quietly go after all those Republican Senators who opposed his leadership.