Senators begin Jackie to replace Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON — Republican leader Sen. The jockeying for Mitch McConnell's appointment began.

The list of possibilities begins with the “Three Johns” — as they are known on Capitol Hill — who are current or former representatives of McConnell and widely seen as frontrunners for the position. They have one thing in common: All have backed Donald Trump for president as the former president's influence with the Senate GOP grows.

While that could be a factor if Trump decides to weigh in on the race, Senate Republicans will vote on their next leader behind closed doors in November. McConnell's successor will take over in January.

Here are the names of top Republican leaders, including three Johns and a few non-Johns who could be in the long-shot bid.

John Cornyn

Sen. Rep. John Cornyn, R-Texas, became the first Republican to announce his bid on Thursday. He said he hopes to fix a “broken” Senate.

“I am asking my Republican colleagues to give me a chance to succeed President McConnell,” Cornyn said. “We will improve communication, increase transparency, and ensure that every member's expertise and opinion is included. We will restore the vital role of Senate committees and re-establish a regular appropriations process, without bouncing from one crisis to another. We will return power to our members; for review, debate and amendment. Without enough time there will be no backlog deals or forced votes on bills.

Cornyn, 72, was first elected in 2002 and served as McConnell's whip for the minority and majority from 2013 to 2019, when he left office. As he said in his statement, he twice chaired the National Republican Senatorial Committee and helped raise money and elect GOP members to the upper chamber.

Asked how he would lead the faction of the party that disagreed with his vote on aid to Ukraine and Israel, Cornyn said: “The leader is not a dictator — the leader has to be very comfortable. If you're going to be in the leadership position, you're going to have to do things — because the member is demanding it — as part of a law.” You wouldn't do as an individual senator voting for the area.

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History with Trump: February 2021 Cornyn called Trump's “language irresponsible” on January 6: “I think he miscalculated what the impact of a mob would be. Mobs don't act like rational people. Cornyn has Trump questioned for a long time'Ability to win general elections in 2024But he endorsed him on January 23, saying Republican voters had made up their minds.

John Thune

Sen. John Thune, R.S.D., the current minority whip, has no qualms about the fact that he likes the job. He will be term-limited out of the whip's job after this year, meaning anything other than the No. 1 position would be a step up for him.

“I think it's probably one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington,” Thune, 63, who was first elected in 2004, told reporters Thursday. Let's talk about what they want.”

A spokesperson for Thune added: “He expects to have substantial conversations about the future over the next few days and weeks, but he wants to keep those conversations private.”

Bottom line: Thune works, just not properly.

History with Trump: Thune voted to exonerate Trump in the 2021 Senate impeachment trial, but that “should not be considered an exoneration for his conduct on January 6 or in the days and weeks leading up to it. What former President Trump did to undermine trust in our electoral system and disrupt the peaceful transition of power is inexcusable.” Initially, Sen. Tim Scott, RSC, endorsed Thune Trump on February 25. Asked about his earlier criticism of the former president, Thune said “the voters have spoken” and it's now a “binary choice”: Trump or Joe Biden.

John Barasso

The 3rd GOP incumbent since 2019, Sen. Rep. John Barrazzo, R-Wyo., was not in Washington on Thursday, instead traveling to Arizona to campaign for the Republican nominee, far-right dissident Cary Lake. to the Senate, according to his office.

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Barrasso, 71, was first elected in 2007. He could compete for the No. 1 or No. 2 job — either one would be a step up from his current job. “He is in a strong position and will make an announcement on his own timeline – not anyone else's,” said a source close to Barasso.

Barrasso's home state colleague, Sen. Rep. Cynthia Loomis, R-Wyo., said Thursday she “hasn't indicated” whether she will run for chairman, but could count on his support if she does. “Whatever he decides to do, I'll support him,” Lummis said.

On Wednesday, Barroso said, “My primary focus is the presidential election in November and majority control in the Senate, as well as majority control in the House of Representatives.”

History with Trump: Barrazzo was the first of three Johns to endorse Trump for president, doing so on January 9. As of late 2021, Barroso has made no criticism of Trump. he asked Former president defends rioters' chants of “hang Mike Pence” on Jan. 6, ABC News reports. Barrasso was the only member of the GOP leadership to vote against recent aid bills for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Steve Daines

The current chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., was quiet when asked Thursday if he wanted to run for GOP chairman.

“Without the majority there is no majority leader. I am focused on getting a majority,” Daines said.

When pressed about the fact that he hasn't ruled out a run for the presidency, Daines replied, “We're focused on getting the majority back.”

Daines, 61, a new member of the GOP leadership, joined the Senate in 2015 but has quickly climbed the ranks and leads the NRSC presidency with a favorable map for Republicans.

History with Trump: Daines was the first member of the GOP leadership to endorse Trump in April of last year. He also rejected the idea that Pence could have swayed the Jan. 6 election. said after voting To exonerate Trump, “Vice President Pence has faithfully sworn his oath of office and certified the election. I voted to acquit President Trump of a second criminal trial because I believe the trial was unconstitutional.

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Rick Scott

Sen. who competed against McConnell in the last leadership election. Rick Scott, R-Fla., is part of a group of conservatives who have called for a special convention meeting to discuss the path forward. He was a vocal critic of McConnell, and he was more controversial in the caucuses than any other prospect. If he runs again, he'll be an underdog at best.

“When I ran before, I thought we needed a change in leadership, so I'm looking forward to a change in the way we operate,” Scott said Thursday. He called McConnell's exit “an opportunity to refocus our efforts on addressing the significant challenges facing our country and to truly reflect the aspirations of the electorate.”

Scott, who was first elected in 2018, failed to unseat McConnell in the leadership election. In November 2022, received 10 votes compared to 37 for McConnell. Scott chaired the NRSC during the 2022 cycle, when Republicans had high hopes of winning back the majority, but they fell short. Some blamed Scott for that failure; He blamed GOP leaders for failing to inspire conservative voters.

“I believe it is time for the Senate Republican caucus to be more bold and determined than it has been in the past,” Scott said in a letter asking members for votes during his failed bid. “We need to start saying what we're for, not just what we're against.”

History with Trump: Scott endorsed Trump in November 2023. He was one of the first governors to endorse Trump in 2016 as well.

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