Georgia Election Investigation

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Sept. 13, 2022, in Washington. Mariam Zuhaib/Associated Press file

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has joined a growing chorus of Republican senators who want to hold off on leadership elections until a winner is declared in the Georgia runoff Dec. 6 between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.

“In light of #GASen runoff, it would be appropriate to delay Senate leadership elections until we know who is in the Senate Republican Conference. I totally agree with Senator @TedCruz that to do otherwise would be disrespectful to @HerschelWalker,” Graham, South Carolina’s senior senator, tweeted Sunday.

“All Republicans should be focused on winning in Georgia and trying to understand the midterm elections before Senate leadership elections or moving on to the 2024 presidential race,” Graham continued in a possible not-so-subtle message to former President Donald Trump, who plans to make a “very big announcement” Tuesday in Florida.

An expected so-called “red wave” of voter support for Republicans in the midterm elections predicted for months did not occur Election Day.

Instead, Democrats clinched a majority again in the Senate after Nevada was called for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat giving the party the needed 50 seats to keep control of the upper chamber. Republicans are projected to hold a majority in the House, though slim.

CNN reported Sunday that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been calling his members over the last several days to ensure support and is still planning to forge ahead with Senate leadership elections Wednesday.


Congress Returns

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speak to reporters outside the White House after a meeting with President Biden on May 12, 2021, in Washington. Evan Vucci/Associated Press file

Meanwhile, in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who wants to be House speaker, is facing pressure and demands from his right, more specifically from the House Freedom Caucus. One of the caucus’ members, U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, told Politico two days after the midterms that he told McCarthy he could not commit to endorsing his speaker run, and that the caucus hoped leadership elections also could be delayed.

“You think it’s going to be easy, but majorities are not given, majorities are earned,” McCarthy said in Columbia at a South Carolina Republican fundraiser in July. “We’re not winning it to have a gavel. We’re winning it to change a country.”

At that same fundraiser, South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a possible 2024 presidential hopeful, told the room he felt “very good” before the midterms, going as far to predict not just a “red wave” but a “red tsunami.”

“The reason why there’s such a possibility of a tsunami is because the economic indicators that most of us look at, putting gas in our cars, that level of inflation and the strength of the economy have all gotten worse under the Biden administration,” Scott said. “That gives us a whole lot of opportunities to tell our story of what the economy looked like when we were in charge.”

Scott has not yet commented on the Senate leadership election schedule.

On Monday, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan tweeted a list of known conservative Republicans who plan to release a letter asking for a delay in Senate and House leadership elections. That list included South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, a former U.S. senator and chairman of the Conservative Partnership Institute, and Chad Connelly, former South Carolina GOP chairman and founder and president of Faith Wins.

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