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Senate Republicans reject Democratic invitation to delay leadership elections

Senate Republicans reject Democratic invitation to delay leadership elections

Senate Republicans bat down effort to delay leadership elections until after Georgia Senate runoff

By David A. Fahrenthold

February 19, 2018

In a wide-ranging, sometimes conflicting press release late Wednesday afternoon, Senate Republicans said they have decided to reject a Democratic invitation to delay the start of Saturday’s leadership elections.

The “imbalance” of the Georgia Senate race, Republicans noted, “will be the key to whether Republicans gain a narrow edge or will slip back to a one-seat majority in the body,” and “an early January runoff may be the only way to ensure that Republicans stay in control of the Senate.”

On the other hand, some members have criticized the party’s decision to schedule elections in time to block Democrats from the upper chamber.

“The clock hasn’t run out for any of the candidates and we should stay above the fray,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Southeast Iowa who hopes to become the youngest person in U.S. history to serve a full four-year term as Senate majority leader.

“There are so many different races and a lot of different things,” Ernst said. “There’s no sense in a one-night event. We’ll find out in the long run whether or not we should have an early vote.”

The decision came as Senate Republicans scrambled to stop a runoff in Georgia’s special election and as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sought to make clear he plans to push his party toward November’s ballot, as he has in every special election this century.

Schumer and other Democrats have argued that Senate Democrats have an ironclad path to victory, in part by winning a majority in the chamber because they won every seat in 2014 by margins of 3 to 6 percentage points.

“While the national polling is showing a 2-point lead for the Republican nominee, we believe the electorate is not settled enough to guarantee a Republican majority,” Schumer said in a statement sent to reporters late Wednesday. “We must have every tool available to defend our congressional majorities in November in order to ensure their continuity.”

Republican Sens. Martha McSally and Johnny Is

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