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Republican US Senator Rick Scott announces run for Senate leader after McConnell retires


By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senator Rick Scott told colleagues in a letter on Wednesday that he is running for Senate Republican leader, aiming to succeed current head Mitch McConnell, who has said he will step down from that role after the November elections.

Scott, a 71-year-old party hardliner, signaled in the letter that he would aim to lead the caucus in a path more closely aligned with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who McConnell was at times at odds with.

“Now is a moment we need dramatic change,” Scott said in the letter. “Senate Republican leadership should reflect the views and aspirations of Republican voters. It’s no secret that Republican voters believe we don’t fight hard enough for the issues they care about.”

Scott, who has represented Florida since 2019, will face off against Senator John Thune, the current No. 2 Senate Republican, and Senator John Cornyn, a former whip.

Democrats currently hold a 51-49 Senate majority, but Republicans have a good shot at retaking control of the chamber in November, when Democrats will be defending multiple seats in states that voted for Trump.

Scott mounted an unsuccessful challenge to McConnell for the same role in November 2022.

McConnell, 82, is the longest-serving party leader in Senate history. In February, following multiple incidents in which he froze up in public after suffering a head injury in a March 2023 fall, he said he was preparing to step down from leadership.

McConnell played an outsized role in helping Trump cement a 6-3 conservative majority in the Supreme Court, paving the way for landmark rulings cheered by conservatives for ending the recognition of a constitutional right to abortion and expanding gun rights.

That belied McConnell’s sometime personal opposition to Trump – particularly the then-president’s conduct ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. McConnell also has spoken out against what he described as a rising tide of isolationism in the Republican Party, and was a vocal backer for more aid for Ukraine.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Scott Malone and Josie Kao)

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