Trump picks Sen. Barrasso as his choice to be next Senate GOP Whip in post-McConnell leadership reshuffle

 March 15, 2024

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) announcement last month that he would step aside from his leadership role following November's elections has sparked a prospective reshuffling of the Senate Republican leadership team to fill that eventual vacancy.

Breitbart reported exclusively on Thursday that former President Donald Trump intended to endorse Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), currently third in the leadership hierarchy as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, to be the next No. 2 on the team as the next Senate GOP Whip.

That report was quickly proven accurate as Trump issued his "Complete and Total Endorsement" of Barrasso as the next Whip in a Thursday evening Truth Social post.

Trump endorses Barrasso to be next GOP Whip

There had been some initial speculation that Sen. Barrasso might make a run to replace Sen. McConnell as the top Republican Leader in the Senate but the Wyoming senator soon ended those rumors by declaring his candidacy for the No. 2 Whip position.

The Whip position is currently held by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who has declared his intention to run against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), his predecessor as Whip, to be McConnell's replacement as the conference Leader.

In his Thursday evening endorsement post, former President Trump wrote, "John Barrasso is a fantastic Senator for the incredible people of Wyoming."

"He is running to be the next Republican Whip for the Senate Republican Conference, a very important job, to ensure we pass and enact Strong Legislation that puts America First. I know John very well -- he will never let you down," Trump added. "John Barrasso has my Complete and Total Endorsement!"

Trump reportedly backs NRSC Chair Daines to be next GOP Leader

According to a Feb. 29 Axios report, unnamed sources close to former President Trump revealed that he was eyeing Sen. Barrasso as the next Senate Republican Leader and likely would have supported the Wyoming senator if he'd tossed his hat into the ring.

Instead, however, the sources indicated that Trump will likely endorse Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who is currently sixth on the leadership team as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to be Sen. McConnell's successor.

The outlet noted that Daines hasn't said one way or the other whether he'll run to be the next GOP Leader, and an anonymous source close to the Montana senator told Axios that Daines "appreciates the president's support but needs to focus on taking back the Senate."

The Senate race this cycle appears particularly favorable for Republicans, as Democrats are defending 10 potentially flippable seats while only a couple of Republican-held seats are potentially gettable for Democrats, and a positive outcome for the GOP in November's elections, especially a retaking of majority control, would undoubtedly boost the prospects of a Daines leadership bid.

An establishment vs. MAGA "proxy war" triggered in Senate

The Hill reported earlier this month that not all Senate Republicans are happy that former President Trump has weighed in on the leadership team's reshuffling and his assertion of influence has triggered a sort of low-level proxy war between the more establishment-aligned senators versus those who are more closely aligned with Trump's MAGA agenda.

To be sure, all of the players involved have issued endorsements of Trump's re-election run, but the endorsements from Sens. Cornyn and Thune, who've had mixed relationships with Trump in the past, were tepid at best and only came after it was clear that he would be the nominee, while the endorsements from Sens. Barrasso and Daines, who've had generally positive relationships with the former president, were strong and came early in the primary cycle.

As Axios noted, how Republicans fare in the Senate races in November will likely prove impactful in how the leadership reshuffling plays out, though the bigger factor, at least in terms of Trump's influence over that leadership race, will be whether he wins or loses in his apparent rematch against President Joe Biden.

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