For years, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has sat as the unquestioned leader of the Republican caucus in Congress’ upper chamber. But in a shocking new piece for Newsmax, columnist John Gizzi suggested that the era of McConnell may soon come to an abrupt end.
Writing Monday, Gizzi peeled back the curtain on speculation that McConnell may be teeing up a resignation, saying that new rules changes making their way through the Kentucky state legislature have prompted rumors that the senator is planning to retire.
Under current rules, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has sole discretion “to appoint whomever he chooses to a vacant Senate seat,” Gizzi writes, meaning that if McConnell stepped down, the governor could choose anyone to fill that slot in the upper chamber. But a proposal recently put forward by Republicans in Kentucky — known as Senate Bill 228 — would force the governor to pick from a list drawn up by the party of the outgoing senator.
A list of replacements
It’s an idea that McConnell is said to support. “Moreover, state Republicans have gone as far as to offer a list of three Republicans from which McConnell’s successor will be chosen,” Gizzi reported Monday.
Among those said to be on the list is state Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Known as a staunch conservative, Cameron would be the first African American to represent Kentucky in the U.S. Senate if chosen.
Other figures who reportedly made the shortlist include former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft and Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams. According to Gizzi, both have long-standing ties to Sen. McConnell.
The columnist also notes that Republicans have a veto-proof majority in the Kentucky legislature, making it all the more likely that the proposed changes will pass.
“Of 37 states in which the governor appoints a U.S. Senator in the event of a vacancy, six have laws requiring the new senator be from the same party as the outgoing lawmaker,” Gizzi explained Monday. “Only Hawaii requires its governor to choose from a list prepared by the state executive committee of the outgoing senator.”
McConnell under fire
At 79 years old, McConnell just entered his seventh term in the Senate after cruising to an easy re-election victory in November over Democratic challenger Amy McGrath.
However, McConnell has faced significant blowback within his own party for his harsh criticism of former President Donald Trump following a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Trump attacked McConnell in return, going after the Kentucky senator along with a number of other top Republicans during his recent address at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
“Now more than ever is the time for tough, strong, and energetic Republican leaders who have spines of steel,” Trump said, according to Fox News. “We cannot have leaders who show more passion for condemning their fellow Americans than they have ever shown for standing up to Democrats, the media, and the radicals who want to turn America into a socialist country.”