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GOP Senators Preparing for McConnell Retirement

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has been out of the public eye for weeks, following a serious fall that hospitalized him. Now multiple sources confirm that Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota are actively reaching out to fellow Republican senators in efforts to prepare for an anticipated leadership vote — a vote that would occur upon announcement that McConnell would be retiring from his duties as leader, and presumably the Senate itself.

One source says that Cornyn has been particularly active in his preparations, taking fellow senators with whom he has little in common to lunch in attempts to court them.

Requests are being targeted at a plethora of conservative senators, including the sixteen who voted to delay the leadership election earlier this year, a proxy for opposition to McConnell’s leadership. Rick Scott, the Florida senator and former NRSC head who challenged McConnell, ultimately received ten protest votes.

These members could prove key to determining the next Republican leader. Queries are also being made internally about the rules regarding replacement, and how the contest would be structured given the lack of an obvious heir apparent.

McConnell fell at a dinner event for the Senate Leadership Fund on March 8 at the Waldorf Astoria, formerly the Trump Hotel, in Washington, DC. He suffered a concussion, and only after being treated at a hospital and at his home did murmurs begin that he might be unable to return to the Senate. These discussions increased in volume based on the inability of other senators to do their jobs — with California’s Dianne Feinstein missing votes due to a shingles diagnosis and John Fetterman of Pennsylvania’s hospitalization for depression.

McConnell has guided the Republican Senate since 2007, and his role at the top of the party has been enormously significant. As the longest serving Senate Party Leader in history, he has been both a target for critics of the Republican establishment and a skilled leader in the judicial nomination fights that became one of the most important battlefields in Washington. His departure from the role of Republican leader would leave a massive vacuum, one that could be filled by Barrasso, Cornyn, Thune or potentially a dark horse ambitious enough to seize the moment.

McConnell is a giant in the history of the Senate — and much as many may question his methods, his departure from leadership would create new chaos for the GOP. Cockburn has reached out to Senator McConnell’s office for comment.

Update 5:30pm ET: Two hours after Cockburn’s report, Senator McConnell tweeted that he was “looking forward to returning to the Senate on Monday.” The tweet is an apparent attempt to squash the outreach efforts from Senators Barrasso, Cornyn and Thune.

READ 38 COMMENTS
  • Guest says:

    Hey, Mitch, you don’t have enough graft from the Ukraine money-laundering machine?
    It is way past time to retire. It’d be grand if we actually had a politician who LOVES our country and its people and who would actually REPRESENT them.

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