Thu. Jun 20th, 2024

Senators begin jockeying to replace Mitch McConnell

By 37ci3 Feb29,2024

WASHINGTON — The race to replace Sen. Mitch McConnell as Republican leader has begun after the Kentucky incumbent announced his resignation in January after an 18-year record.

The list of prospects begins with the “three Johns” — as they are known on Capitol Hill — who are McConnell’s current or former deputies and are widely seen as frontrunners for the job. They have one thing in common: they all supported Donald Trump as president Influence is growing with the Senate GOP.

While it may have been a factor in Trump’s decision to enter the race, Senate Republicans will vote on their next leader behind closed doors in November. McConnell’s successor will take office in January.

Here’s a mixed bag of names for the best Republican leader, including three Johns and some non-Johns who could make a long-term bid.

John Cornyn

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, became the first Republican to announce his proposal Thursday, doing so in a statement. He said he hopes to fix a “broken” Senate.

“I am asking my Republican colleagues to give me the opportunity to succeed Leader McConnell,” Cornyn said. We will restore the important role of Senate committees and restore a regular appropriations process rather than bouncing from one crisis to the next. We will return the power to our members; No more backroom deals or forced votes on bills that have not had adequate time for consideration, discussion and amendment.”

Cornyn, 72 and first elected in 2002, served as McConnell’s minority and majority whip from 2013 until 2019, when he was removed from office. He also spent two terms as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, helping to raise money and elect GOP members to the upper house, he said in a statement.

He asked how he would go in the wing of the party that did not agree He voted for the aid of Ukraine and Israel, Cornyn said, “A leader should not be a dictator, but rather a facilitator. And if you’re going to lead, you’re going to have to do everything — because the membership requires it — maybe that’s not what you’re going to do as an individual senator voting for legislation.”

A date with Trump: In February 2021, Cornyn said on January 6 that Trump’s “language was careless,” adding, “I think he miscalculated what the crowd’s influence would be. “Mobs do not behave like rational people.” There is Cornyn Trump’s ability to win the 2024 general election has long been questionedbut he endorsed it on January 23, saying Republican voters had made up their own minds.

John Tun

Sen. John Thune, RS.D., the current minority whip, makes no bones about wanting the job. After this year, he will be removed from the whip position, meaning everything but the No. 1 position will be a step down for him.

“I think it’s probably one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington,” Tune, 63 and first elected in 2004, told reporters Thursday. “We are having all the conversations with our colleagues and will continue to do so — and talk about the future of the Senate and what our members want in the next Senate Republican leader.”

A spokesperson for Thune added: “He looks forward to having substantive conversations about the future over the next few days and weeks, but intends to keep those conversations confidential.”

Bottom line: Thune works, it’s not official yet.

A date with Trump: Tune voted to acquit Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, but said that shouldn’t be seen as an acquittal of his conduct on Jan. 6 … or in the days and weeks leading up to it. What former President Trump did to undermine trust in our electoral system and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power is unforgivable.” Thune originally endorsed Sen. Tim Scott, RS.C., in the 2024 race. On February 25, Tun endorsed Trump. Asked about his previous criticism of the former president, Thune said “the voters have spoken” and now it’s a “dual choice”: Trump or Joe Biden.

John Barrasso

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who has held the No. 3 GOP post since 2019, was not in Washington on Thursday, instead visiting Arizona. far-right election denier Kari Lakethe presumptive Republican nominee for Senate, according to his office.

Barrasso, 71, was first elected in 2007. He could probably be a candidate for the 1st or 2nd position – either would be a step up from his current job. “He’s in a strong position and will make the announcement on his own schedule, not someone else’s,” said a source close to Barrasso.

Barrasso’s home-state colleague, Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., said Thursday that she “hasn’t indicated” to him whether she will run for the leadership, but that she can count on his support if she does. “Whatever he decides to do, I’ll support him,” Lummis said.

“My number one focus is the presidential election in November and majority control in the Senate as well as majority control in the House of Representatives,” Barrasso said Wednesday.

A date with Trump: Barrasso was the first of three Johns to endorse Trump for president on January 9. At the end of 2021, Barrasso was uncritical in his criticism of Trump. he asked ABC News on the former president who defended rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” on Jan. 6. Barrasso was also the only member of the GOP leadership to vote against recent aid bills for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Steve Daines

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., the current chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was coy Thursday when asked if he was interested in running for GOP leadership.

“There will be no Majority Leader without a majority. I’m focused on getting the majority,” said Daines.

When pressed that he had not ruled out a leadership bid, Daines replied: “We are focused on winning back the majority.”

Daines, 61, is a newer member of GOP leadership, having joined the Senate in 2015, but has quickly risen through the ranks and holds the NRSC chairmanship in a Republican-friendly map.

A date with Trump: Daines was the first member of the GOP leadership to endorse Trump to do so in April last year. He also rejected the idea that Pence could cancel the January 6 election. he said after voting to exonerate former President Trump, “Vice President Pence faithfully fulfilled his oath of office and certified the election. “I voted to acquit President Trump of the second impeachment because I believe the trial is unconstitutional.”

Rick Scott

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., McConnell’s opponent in the last leadership election, is part of a group of conservatives calling for a special conference meeting to discuss a way forward. He is a staunch critic of McConnell, and he is more controversial within the caucus than any other prospect. Still, if he ran, he would be weak at best.

“When I first ran for office, I thought we needed a change in leadership, so I expect a change in how we operate,” Scott said Thursday. He called McConnell’s speech “an opportunity to refocus our efforts on the critical issues facing our country and to actually reflect the wishes of the voters.”

Scott, who was first elected in 2018, failed to unseat McConnell in the leadership race. In November 2022, received 10 votes compared to 37 for McConnell. Scott was the NRSC chairman during the 2022 term, when Republicans had high hopes of regaining the majority, but failed. Some blamed Scott for this failure; he accused GOP leaders of failing to inspire conservative voters.

“I believe it’s time for the Senate Republican Conference to be bolder and more determined than it has been in the past,” Scott said in a letter asking for members’ votes on his failed bid.

A date with Trump: Scott supported Trump In November 2023. He was one of the first governors to support Trump in 2016.

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