Mitch McConnell dismissed rumors Tuesday of an early retirement, Fox News reported.
The 79-year old lawmaker said that his support of a Kentucky bill that would ensure his successor is a Republican did not tip his hand on any career plans. “I don’t think we’re going to have a vacancy. I’m not going anywhere,” McConnell said at a press conference.
McConnell dismisses retirement rumors
The bill would require the governor to fill a Senate vacancy with a member of the same party as the previous officeholder. That would allow McConnell, a party man if there ever was one, to leave the Senate knowing his seat would remain in GOP hands.
But McConnell, who is often derided by Democrats as a partisan trickster, said it was simply “the best way to go” and that he is not thinking of leaving before 2026, when his current term ends.
“I just got elected to a six-year term and I’m still the leader of my party in the Senate, so this is a hypothetical. But I have watched this over the years in the Senate as various vacancies were filled and I thought this was the best way to go,” he said.
The bill would also require the governor to choose from three candidates selected by the executive committee of the state political party of the former officeholder.
Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, had vetoed the bill, but Kentucky’s state legislature then overturned him.
McConnell: not about politics
McConnell insisted he would have supported the bill if the shoe was on the other foot.
He added that it would guarantee that the people could quickly “elect a new senator and in the interim, honor the results of the last election for that particular individual” if a vacancy arises.
McConnell, who first entered the Senate in 1985, was reelected in November but lost his majority after a pair of defeats in Georgia that sparked a blame game between McConnell’s establishment supporters and Donald Trump’s base.
Tensions between McConnell and Trump came to a boil after the election, and Trump unloaded on the Republican as an “unsmiling political hack” whose weak leadership was leading the GOP into a dead end.
“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said.