Fresh after their victorious lopping off of House Speaker John Boehner’s head, conservatives wasted little time announcing who the next scalp should be.
“Next guy in the crosshairs will probably be [Mitch] McConnell,” Rep. Matt Salmon reportedly texted Sen. Mike Lee on Friday morning, before sharing that text with the press. “Here’s what I say in response to Speaker Boehner stepping down,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said at the Values Voter Summit: “Mitch McConnell, it is now your turn.” Roger Villere, the longtime Louisiana GOP chair and RNC vice chairman, urged McConnell to “Resign!!” on his Facebook page this weekend. Sen. Rand Paul, who supported McConnell’s 2014 re-election bid over a more conservative challenger in the Kentucky primary, dodged several questions about whether he supports McConnell as leader on Sunday. And Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign strategy, of course, hinges on trashing McConnell as his spineless establishmentarian foil.
But despite all the anger with his leadership, McConnell is safe for a number of reasons. For one, tempers run cooler among statewide-elected officials, who represent broader swaths of the electorate than the most conservative House members do. Majority leaders are also elected by the majority conference, affording McConnell far more defections than Boehner had to work with as speaker, a position elected by a majority of the entire chamber.