There is an increasing perception among individuals familiar with the workings of Capitol Hill that if a procedure were to be established for the replacement of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, it would be biased against candidates who are considered populist or outsiders.
During a news appearance held in July on Capitol Hill, Senator McConnell exhibited signs of temporary immobilization and required assistance from other Senate Republicans to be escorted out. In a subsequent occurrence in August, McConnell experienced a momentary lapse of speech during a press conference held in Kentucky. Following a thorough examination conducted by Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician at the Capitol, McConnell has received clearance, since it has been determined that he did not experience a stroke, seizure disorder, or exhibit indications of Parkinson’s disease.
The senator, who assumed office in 1985, has expressed his intention to persist in his role as the minority leader while fulfilling the remainder of his tenure in the Senate.
The Daily Caller conducted interviews with several Senate staffers, both present and past, regarding the potential replacement of McConnell. Anonymity was offered by the Caller in order to facilitate a discussion on a delicate topic.
“It’s almost impossible for an outsider to win leadership races these days with how much money is controlled by the party leaders on all sides, but the issue is particularly acute with McConnell in the Senate. He’s basically the most — at least to the base — the most unimpressive leader that we’ve had in previous decades. However, he is the longest-serving Republican leader or any party leader in the Senate, based primarily on the fact that he controls about a half a billion dollars every cycle in campaign funds,” a former Senate aide told the Caller.
“So if you want to get elected to the Senate, the majority of the money to run for Senate is controlled exclusively by Mitch McConnell. Rick Scott already did challenge him. I don’t know if he’s currently running, but he did run against him. He put his reputation on the line. I don’t know if the pain was so severe, that he would decline to do so again, but I can tell you there’s not even going to be much of a race. It’s going to be John Thune,” the former aide continued, referring to South Dakota Sen. John Thune.
“It’s going to be one of the Johns. The process is essentially rigged, where an outsider could not emerge with enough votes. Even if someone did try to challenge the establishment, it would be impossible for that person to win. McConnell has too much money behind him. It will either be Thune or Cornyn, but most likely Thune,” a current Senate aide told the Caller, referring to Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
As of present, no members of the Republican party have publicly declared their intention to assume the position of Minority Leader in the event that Senator McConnell chooses to relinquish his role. To date, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri stands as the sole Senate Republican who has expressed his lack of confidence in Senator McConnell’s leadership and has voiced concerns over McConnell’s capacity to fulfill his duties effectively. Hawley’s potential reelection bid is scheduled for the year 2024.
“If you’re concerned about conservative policy, and Senate leadership delivering policy wins, a change at the top isn’t going to necessarily deliver that. The outcome of a leadership fight has been essentially baked for years—either Thune or Cornyn will almost certainly take the helm. Barrasso would be a solid replacement, as a good conservative vote on a lot of issues, but likely another Senator would win out,” a different current Senate aide said, referring to Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming.
“It’s Thune or Cornyn. I think McConnell world prefers Thune but Cornyn is a better fundraiser and legislator so I wouldn’t count him out,” another former Senate aide told the Caller.
“Someone might but the rules are rigged. If it was a plurality vote, someone might do it and could win but at some point it will be a head to head vote and McConnell will make sure he has the votes to get whatever moderate he can get,” the former aide added.
When the Caller inquired about a potential Minority Leader replacement, McConnell’s office pointed to his previous remarks in which he declared, “I’m going to finish my term as leader, and I’m going to finish my Senate term.”