Rick Scott confident he can lead NRSC after Electoral College vote

Florida Republican was the only member of leadership to object to electors

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott is the new NRSC chairman.  (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott is the new NRSC chairman. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 13, 2021 at 1:15pm

Sen. Rick Scott said Wednesday he can still effectively lead the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, even as Republicans in Congress remain divided and a growing number of companies pledge not to donate to lawmakers who voted against certifying two states’ Electoral College votes. 

The Florida Republican was among the seven GOP senators, and the only member of leadership, who voted last week to object to Pennsylvania’s electors. Scott did not join the group that objected to Arizona’s electors. 

The votes have prompted backlash from donors and other members of the party after a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol, fueled by the president’s unfounded claims of election fraud. 

Fundraising is a key part of Scott’s job as the new chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, with Republicans looking to win back the Senate majority in 2022 after losing control of the chamber last week. Despite his vote last week, Scott said he won’t have trouble raising money, noting he’s been meeting with donors in recent days.

“If a company believes in high taxes and more regulations and bigger government and less money for the military, they ought to go fund the Democrats,” Scott told CQ Roll Call in an interview. “If they believe what Republicans believe in, I think they’re going to fund us”

“We’re going to raise money,” he later added.

Scott told The Washington Post earlier this week that he objected to Pennsylvania’s electors because he believes the state’s new mail-in voting rules violated state law. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a GOP lawsuit related to the issue, and the U.S. Supreme Court also rejected the case.

Ahead of last week’s vote, and before the mob stormed the Capitol, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell implored his colleagues not to object to the Electoral College votes, saying that overruling the voters, the courts, and the states “would damage our republic forever.” 

Scott did not answer when asked if McConnell was wrong in that assessment.

“You can ask him why he thinks — I can tell you why I voted,” Scott said. “And I'm going to continue to do what I believe is best. I got elected to represent the people of Florida. And I'm going to continue to work hard to represent the people of my state. I’ve been given an opportunity to help Republicans get control of the Senate. I’m going to work hard to do that. And I think we’re going to have a lot of success and get the majority back in two years.” 

Scott insisted that the Republicans across the country are not as divided as they are in Congress, where some GOP members were poised to impeach a Republican president later on Wednesday. 

“When you focus on the issues, and that's what I'm going to do is the chair of the NRSC, when you talk to people about what we stand for versus what the Democrats stand for, we’re very unified,” Scott said. 

But some GOP strategists in recent days cast doubt on whether the party can move forward without breaking with Trump, especially as loyalty to the president has defined recent GOP primaries.

“Republicans tend to be pretty good opposition party,” said GOP strategist Alex Conant, who worked for Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. “If they get back to doing that, you know, they could have some success sooner than people expect. But that can't happen if Donald Trump is still demanding the spotlight be on him.”

Scott demurred on what influence Trump -- who is expected to be a full-time Florida constituent after he leaves the White House next week -- would have over the party moving forward. 

Asked if Trump could still campaign with senators and candidates, Scott said, “Every candidate and President Trump will make those choices. There's probably places where people are gonna want him to campaign a lot. There's places where they won't want him to campaign a lot.” 

Trump and his sons have threatened to support primary challengers against lawmakers who did not object to the Electoral College results. All of the GOP senators up for reelection in 2022, except for Louisiana's John Kennedy, opposed the objections.

“We have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight,” Trump told a crowd of supporters on Jan. 6, shortly before the riot at the Capitol. 

Scott was not concerned about that threat.  

“If you look at our incumbents, they work hard,” Scott said. “They're diverse but they represent their state. I think if they get a primary, I think our incumbents are going to be fine. "