Mitch McConnell re-elected as Republican Senate leader

Minority leader fends off first party challenger in 15 years

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters after being re-elected to his long-time role as Senate Republican leader. AP
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Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Wednesday was re-elected as the Republican Party's leader in the Senate, defeating a long-shot oppositional challenge to unseat him.

Mr McConnell's re-election paves the way for him to become the longest-serving Senate party leader in American history, as he once again takes the helm amid a tight power balance between the country's leading parties.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said after the secret ballot leadership vote ended 31-10 — with one “present” vote — in his favour against Rick Scott of Florida.

Mr Scott was the first challenger in Mr McConnell's 15 years of leading the Republican Party in the Senate.

“Although the results of today’s elections weren’t what we hoped for, this is far from the end of our fight to make Washington work,” Mr Scott said after the vote.

It is expected that Mr McConnell will again serve as minority leader, as current Senate projections predict a 50-49 power balance between the Democrats and Republicans, with a Georgia run-off election in December.

If the Senate once again has a 50-50 split, Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris will serve as the tiebreaker in votes as she has done over the past two years.

But Democrats hope that their Georgia candidate Raphael Warnock will win against Herschel Walker, allowing them to gain the upper hand in the chamber.

“Last week, our narrowly divided country went to the polls and elected a narrowly divided Congress — including a very narrowly divided United States Senate,” Mr McConnell said in a statement welcoming new senators-elect on Tuesday.

Updated: November 16, 2022, 8:24 PM