McConnell Departure Fuels Questions About Replacement

McConnell Departure Fuels Questions About Replacement

( – Born in Sheffield, Alabama, in 1942, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began his career in politics in 1977. He joined the Senate in 1984 and has been a leader within the Upper Chamber for the last 17 years. At 82 years old, the seasoned legislator recently made a stunning announcement.

What Happened?

On February 28, the Associated Press reported that McConnell told the public he was stepping down from leadership in the Senate. However, he still intends to serve out his term in the chamber, which runs until 2027. McConnell is the longest-serving Senate leader in the history of the Senate itself. Now the question is: Who will take his place in November? The Wall Street Journal named three politicians that might take his place. GOP Senators John Thune (SD), John Cornyn (TX), and John Barrasso (WY). In fact, right after McConnell’s announcement, the Texas lawmaker formally announced he had every intention to run for the spot.

However, the Senate minority leader didn’t say who he thought should replace him in leadership, confident that his Republican colleagues would choose an appropriate leader in his wake. Senator JD Vance (R-OH) said choosing McConnell’s replacement is an important decision, emphasizing that the person must be able to “work with the other side to get almost anything done,” according to The WSJ. Vance said he would support “John” to lead the Senate — all of the contenders share the same first name. The WSJ said Thune’s position as whip and McConnell’s right-hand man could give him a leg up in securing the role, but it wasn’t a given. The South Dakota lawmaker already stepped in for McConnell during his fall in March 2023. He has not formally announced whether he will run for the spot.

Reactions to the Announcement

Reuters reported that several politicians reacted to McConnell stepping down, including President Joe Biden, who described their relationship as “great.” He said even though they fought a lot, the minority leader “never misrepresented anything,” and he was “sorry to hear” the news. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said even though they “rarely saw eye to eye” in politics, he was proud that the two “came together” when the country needed them the most.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said McConnell’s “legacy will endure for generations,” stating he made “historic contributions” to Congress and the GOP. Thune said the legislative leader “leaves really big shoes to fill,” and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) had good things to say about McConnell fighting for “conservative values.” He said “no senator in memory” has shown “more respect” for the Senate than McConnell.

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