Kevin McCarthy Gets GOP Nod To Be Next Speaker Of The House; Mitch McConnell Says Independent Voters Were “Frightened” By Some In GOP — Update

UPDATE, Wednesday: Mitch McConnell was overwhelmingly re-elected as the Republicans’ Senate leader, despite a challenge from Rick Scott.

The vote of the GOP caucus was 37-10, according to press reports.

PREVIOUSLY, Tuesday, 12:12 PM: With Republicans poised to control the U.S. House by an ever-so-slim margin, Kevin McCarthy fended off a challenge to leadership when the GOP caucus overwhelmingly nominated him to be the next speaker.

Fox News and other outlets reported that the vote in the closed-door caucus meeting was 188 votes for McCarthy and 31 votes for Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who announced an effort earlier on Tuesday.

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Still, given the expected narrow majority that the GOP will have in the House, McCarthy will have to find a way to secure at least 30 more votes to become the next speaker. That vote will take place in January, when the new Congress is sworn in and seated.

“We have our work cut out for us,” McCarthy told reporters. “We [are going to have] a small majority. We got to listen to everybody in our conference.” He said “either we will lead as a team or we will lose as individuals, but I think at the end of the day we will lead as a team.”

Republicans are close to securing the 218 votes to control the House as votes continued to be counted in California and other western states. But the GOP majority will be far short of what was expected, with some prognosticators predicting a midterm blowout that would see the party have a 20+ seat advantage over the Democrats.

The GOP also was holding leadership elections in the Senate this week, where the party failed to win back control. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who ran the GOP’s Senate campaign effort in the most recent cycle, announced a challenge to Mitch McConnell as the party leader.

“The status quo is broken and big change is needed,” Scott said in a statement. “It’s time for new leadership in the Senate that unites Republicans to advance a bold conservative agenda.”

He said in a letter to members, “We must start saying what we are for, not just what we are against.”

McConnell told reporters after a Senate caucus meeting that “I have the votes. I will be elected. The only issue is whether we do it sooner or later.” He said that they would “probably have another discussion about that” on Wednesday, when the vote is scheduled.

McConnell said the GOP underperformed among independents and moderates because “their impression of many of the people in our party in leadership roles is that they are involved in chaos, negativity, excessive attacks. And it frightened independent and moderate voters.”

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