Archive

ShareThis Page
McConnell, Reid switch Senate posts | TribLIVE.com
News

McConnell, Reid switch Senate posts

by MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS
| Thursday, November 13, 2014 8:24 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Thursday elected Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to be majority leader of the new Senate in January, putting the longtime lawmaker in place as the party’s chief adversary to President Obama.

The onlt Kentuckian to serve as majority leader since Democrat Alben Barkley in the 1930s and 1940s, McConnell offered a possible preview of what Obama can expect from him over the next two years.

“I had maybe naively hoped the president would look at the results of the election and decide to come to the political center and do some business with us,” McConnell told reporters. “I still hope he does at some point, but the early signs are not good.”

McConnell’s ascension to majority leader was a unanimous coronation, but Senate Democrats voted for Harry Reid of Nevada to be minority leader in a tense, four-hour, closed-door meeting in the Old Senate Chamber. Several Democrats refused to support his re-election.

A chastened Reid emerged from the meeting and announced he had expanded his leadership team by adding liberal favorite Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. to the party’s messaging operation.

“What do I expect her to do?” Reid said. “I expect her to be Elizabeth Warren.”

The Democratic meeting was a venting session over what went wrong in the Nov. 4 elections and what direction the party will take in the Senate.

“One of the reasons it was one of the longer caucuses we’ve ever had was that we were honest with each other, straightforward and clear about the message the voters sent,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

Before finally getting the nod from his party in a secret ballot, Reid heard blunt comments from his fellow Democrats.

Twenty-eight of the Senate’s 53 Democrats and two Independents spoke during the meeting. At least five senators — Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Warner of Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota —declined to vote for Reid, who was running unopposed.

“To me, when you have an election like this, common sense tells me you need to change things,” McCaskill said. “I think we’re going to have a process of introspection.”

Manchin and other unidentified Democrats asked colleagues for a one-week delay in the leadership vote to assess why the party was so soundly defeated in last week’s elections.

“I do not vote to accept the leadership team we have now,” Manchin told reporters after the meeting. “We asked for a week to have an open discussion on everything that went wrong, evaluate what went wrong — messaging, the lack of messaging — and move forward.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.