Rick Scott enters race for Senate GOP leadership

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U.S. Senator Rick Scott of Florida announced on Wednesday that he will seek the position of Senate Republican leader.

Sen. Scott's announcement follows word from Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky that he will step down from that position in November. The Wall Street Journal first reported on his campaign for leader.

McConnell, who turned 82 this year, is the longest-serving Senate leader in history and has maintained that role in the Republican Party for almost two decades. 

In November 2022, McConnell beat back a challenge led by Sen. Scott following a disappointing performance in the midterm elections that kept Senate control in the hands of the Democrats. 

Scott's challenge was the first-ever attempt to oust McConnell after many years, which ended in a vote of 37-10, with one other senator voting "present." 

Scott's 2022 challenge to McConnell was urged by Former President Donald Trump. It remains unclear if Trump will endorse Scott this time around.  

Scott spoke with FOX 35 following McConnell's announcement in February that he would be stepping down. 

"I’ve been up here for five years, and almost from the time I got up here, I thought we needed a change in direction of the Senate," Scott told FOX 35's Manny Martinez when asked if he would run to replace McConnell. "We need to go back to what the Constitution says, that we each represent our individual states without the pressure to represent whatever the Republican leader believes. I ran for that purpose. I think the process we should be doing now as a Republican conference is sit down to say, ‘Where do we want to go?’ And then it’s pretty easy to pick a leader."

When pressed for an answer, Scott added, "I think the logical way of doing this is to go through the logical process, and we'll see where the Republican conference is, and that’ll lead us to the right person to lead the conference."

Scott enters the 2024 Senate leadership race against Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and John Cornyn of Texas, who announced their candidacy earlier this year.

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Scott is also up for reelection to the U.S. Senate this year in Florida. He faces two candidates in the Republican Primary, John Columbus and Keith Gross, which will be held on August 20. 

Scott would then face the winner of a crowded field of Democrats who have qualified for the August primary, including Stanley Campbell, Alan Grayson, Rod Joseph, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, and Brian Rush.

Mucarsel-Powell, a one-term congressional representative from South Florida, is Scott’s top Democratic challenger in the latest polling. A CBS News poll conducted May 10-16 showed Scott holding an eight-point advantage over Mucarsel-Powell, with a 3.6-point margin of error. 

"Self-serving Rick Scott is a danger to Florida families, and as Senate leader, he would be a disaster for Americans," Mucarsel-Powell said in a news release following Scott's social media post. "The stakes of this race just got so much higher, but voters are fired up and ready to retire Rick Scott – for working Floridians and for Americans across the country."

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Some information taken from the Associated Press.