Ginni Thomas, other conservatives call on GOP to delay leadership elections

Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, during a break in her September closed-door testimony before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Dozens of conservative leaders are calling on Republican lawmakers to postpone their leadership elections until next month, echoing the demands of several frustrated Senate and House Republicans after a much-hyped “red wave” did not materialize in the midterm elections.

In an open letter Monday to Republican members of Congress, 72 conservative leaders said that “there should be no rushed leadership elections,” pointing to the fact that several congressional races remain to be called and that the Senate race in Georgia will go to a runoff.

“The Republican Party needs leaders who will confidently and skillfully present a persuasive coherent vision of who we are, what we stand for, and what we will do,” the letter stated.

It continued: “Conservative Members of the House and Senate have called for the leadership elections to be delayed. We strongly urge both Houses of Congress to postpone the formal Leadership elections until after the December 6 runoff in Georgia and all election results are fully decided.”

Signatories included Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a lawyer and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition; and Mark Meadows, who was chief of staff in the Trump White House. Axios first reported on the letter.

The House GOP is scheduled to hold its leadership elections Tuesday, while the Senate GOP is to vote on leadership Wednesday. Republican leaders in both chambers have pushed back on calls to delay the votes. Several members of the House Freedom Caucus, who are staunch supporters of former president Donald Trump, have already said they will not support House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.).

Nevertheless, McCarthy launched his campaign for the speakership last week, sending a letter to his Republican colleagues in which he said he felt “confidently” that the GOP would achieve its goal of taking back control of the House.

“I trust you know that earning the majority is only the beginning,” McCarthy wrote. “Now, we will be measured by what we do with our majority. Now, the real work begins. That is why I am running to serve as Speaker of the People’s House and humbly ask for your support.”

In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has also faced criticism and calls to postpone the leadership vote.

“I don’t know why Senate GOP would hold a leadership vote for the next Congress before this election is finished,” Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) wrote on Twitter, joining several other Republicans, including Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Cynthia M. Lummis (Wyo.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), in a push for the vote to be postponed until after the Dec. 6 runoff between Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) and Republican Herschel Walker.

Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the Senate GOP conference chairman, has said the election will be held Wednesday.

House Democrats will hold their leadership elections starting Nov. 30. In interviews on political talk shows Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) declined to say whether she would run for the speakership again if Democrats retain control of the House – for which there is a slim possibility.

Control of the House remained in the balance Monday, with neither party yet securing the 218 seats required to take the majority. Most of the uncalled congressional races are in California, where ballots are valid as long as they were postmarked by Election Day and where final election tallies could take weeks to determine.