Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), one of the handful of Republicans vying for the nomination in the Georgia Senate race, became the latest Senate candidate to refuse to say whether he would commit to supporting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Republican Senate leader for another term.
Reached by The Hill on Monday, Kingston’s campaign refused to say whether the congressman would support McConnell as leader for another term.
“Jack Kingston is focused on communicating his record and his vision to the people of Georgia so we can elect a proven, tested conservative to turn back [Democratic Leader] Harry Reid’s liberal agenda,” Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford told The Hill.
That comment is especially surprising given that Kingston has received notable Republican establishment support in his bid for Senate. The Chamber of Commerce plans to start airing ads in support of Kingston on Wednesday.
Kingston isn’t the only candidate in the Republican Senate primary to refuse to support McConnell as Republican leader. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel, one of Kingston’s rivals, suggested earlier in the month that she would not support McConnell.
Handel told The Hill earlier in the month that Republicans “need new leadership.” Handel added that the minority leader’s supporters “can make a determination for him.”
Beyond that though, there are other candidates who have refused to say whether they would support McConnell as well, some of which are favorites of tea party supporters. In Oklahoma, Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), who is running to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), said he didn’t know who would be running for Republican leader next. And former House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-OK), running against Lankford in the Oklahoma Senate race, has been publicly critical of McConnell, according to The Hill.
Over in Nebraska, tea party favorite Ben Sasse has also refused to back McConnell as Republican leader for another term, according to The Hill. Sasse has previously been scolded by McConnell over his associations with the Senate Conservatives Fund, the prominent conservative tea party group that has made McConnell’s defeat its number-one priority.
About a month ago, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the Republican frontrunner in the Senate race for Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) seat, refused to say whether he would support McConnell.
“I don’t know,” Cassidy said. “I don’t know who’s running. That’s an honest answer. I don’t know who’s running. But it’s kind of interesting because people who are rumored to be running are helping me tremendously in my campaign. [Sen.] John Cornyn called just the other day.”