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Prominent conservatives call for delay to GOP leadership elections



More than 60 prominent conservatives, including former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and activist Ginni Thomas, are calling on House and Senate GOP leadership elections to be delayed until after the Dec. 6 Georgia Senate runoff.

The open letter to GOP lawmakers released Monday comes just a day before House Republicans are set to hold their closed-door election to pick their leaders for the new Congress. Senate Republicans plan to hold their own internal elections on Wednesday.

Republicans have been trading blame with each other for their lackluster midterms performance, where Democrats held onto control of the Senate and staved off big losses in the House in a year many Republicans were predicting a “red wave.”

But so far, both Senate and House GOP leaders — Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Kevin McCarthy of California — are pressing forward with elections this week.

“The Republican Party needs leaders who will confidently and skillfully present a persuasive coherent vision of who we are, what we stand for, and what we will do. Many current elections are still undecided. There should be no rushed leadership elections,” the conservative group wrote in their letter. 

“Conservative Members of the House and Senate have called for the leadership elections to be delayed. We strongly urge both Houses of Congress to postpone the formal Leadership elections until after the December 6 runoff in Georgia and all election results are fully decided.”

Among those who signed the letter were David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth; former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., chair of the Conservative Partnership Institute; David N. Bossie, president of Citizens United; Trump’s former White House budget director, Russ Vought, president of the Center for Renewing America; Ginni Thomas, president of Liberty Consulting and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Matt Schlapp, chairman of CPAC; Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks; Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation; and former conservative Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas.

So far, no one has formally stepped forward to challenge either McConnell or McCarthy, but that could soon change.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a former chairman of the far-right, Trump-aligned House Freedom Caucus, has reportedly been flirting with challenging McCarthy for speaker. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Biggs would not confirm whether he was considering a bid but said that “nobody has 218 [votes for speaker.] And somebody is going to run tomorrow” against McCarthy.

And Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., the chairman of the Senate GOP’s campaign arm this cycle, isn’t closing the door on a potential challenge to McConnell for minority leader.

“A lot of people have called me to see if I would run,” Scott said on Fox News on Sunday, adding, “I’m not going to take anything off the table.”

A handful of other Republican senators — including Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah — also are calling for a delay.

“It would be insane if we reelect the same leadership two days from now — if we say, ‘Hey nothing happened, everything’s good. Keep rowing off the waterfall, crash into the rocks. Everything’s awesome,'” Cruz said Monday on his podcast, “Verdict with Ted Cruz.”

“Listen, if you have the No. 1 team in the nation and you get crushed and you get crushed and you get crushed, you know what happens? They fire the coach,” he continued. “The idea that we would have leadership elections on Wednesday is insane.”

Asked if he thought he had enough support to retain leadership, McConnell told reporters, “Of course.”

Both McCarthy and McConnell have a political incentive to move quickly to hold internal elections. With conservative discontent brewing, any lengthy delay could create an opening for a possible challenger to build up support.

But not all Freedom Caucus members would line up behind Biggs if he takes on McCarthy. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a staunch Trump ally who has clashed with McCarthy, said a conservative challenge to McCarthy would be a very risky” and “bad strategy” and claimed it could lead to a situation where Democrats cut a deal with a handful of anti-Trump Republicans to elect Rep. Liz Cheney as speaker.

“Do we want to see that challenge open the door to Nancy Pelosi handing the gavel to Liz Cheney? Is that what everybody really wants? Because I will not do it. There is no way in hell I will stand there and allow that to happen,” Greene said on Steve Bannon’s podcast “War Room.”

On the other side of the aisle side, President Joe Biden appears to be supportive of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., continuing on as the top Democrat in the House should she decide to seek that post again.

“I hope you stick,” Biden told Pelosi last week after the midterm elections, a Democratic aide confirmed on Monday. The president’s remarks were first reported by Politico.

NBC News has reached out to the White House for comment.



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