Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) set all speculation of a party shake-up situation aside after announcing that he will once again seek to win the upper chamber’s top Republican leadership position, the Washington Examiner reports.
The Kentucky Republican, who will turn 80 in February, told a reporter this week that he’s ready to continue his leadership position, which he’s held since 2015. “I’m going to be running again for leader later this year,” McConnell said.
With Republicans now poised to possibly win majority control of the Senate in the 2022 midterms, it’s not surprising that he’d want to keep his top spot.
The news comes in the wake of Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) confirming last weekend that he will seek a fourth term in the Senate. Thune, in his number two leadership position, is considered a likely successor to McConnell as far as GOP leadership is concerned.
The Trump factor
Both men, but especially McConnell, have faced the wrath of former President Donald Trump over the past year, starting with McConnell’s refusal to intervene in the Electoral College certification vote on Jan. 6, 2021.
After the Capitol riot, McConnell took to the Senate floor and blasted the former president, which further strained the two’s already rocky relationship.
As The Hill noted, Trump went on yet another anti-McConnell rant several times late last year after the GOP leader voted in favor of passing President Joe Biden’s massive, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Because Republicans in both chambers of Congress rely heavily on Trump’s endorsement and backing, it’ll be interesting to see if McConnell can actually win enough support in the Senate when it’s time to vote for the party’s leadership.
That was evidenced last month by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who made a notable statement about Trump’s influence, saying without at least a working relationship with the former president, a GOP leader “cannot be effective.”
A clear path
Even with the fallout with Trump, McConnell has long-enjoyed strong support from his Republican Senate colleagues, and as of now, he faces no challenges to speak of as far as running for the top leadership position.
The Hill noted that no other GOP senators are aware of any potential challengers to McConnell’s position.
But in this political climate, and especially as the 2022 midterms draw closer, Trump’s influence might be too much to overcome for McConnell to succeed. Only time will tell.