Here’s Who Might Run To Replace McConnell As Senate GOP Leader, Including The ‘Three Johns’

The announcement by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that he will step down from his leadership role has sparked speculation about who may run to replace him.

McConnell said he will remain as leader until January 2025, when a new Republican leader will be elected following the November 2024 elections. This gives potential candidates time to mount campaigns.

Several high-ranking Senate Republicans are seen as potential contenders, including Whip John Thune, Conference Chair John Barrasso, and former Whip John Cornyn. However, none have explicitly confirmed intentions to run yet.

Thune said he looks forward to discussing the future of Senate GOP leadership with colleagues. Barrasso emphasized upcoming elections as his current focus. Cornyn said he has made his intentions clear but did not elaborate publicly.

Some conservatives have voiced support for Senator Rick Scott, who unsuccessfully challenged McConnell for minority leader in 2022. In a statement, Scott said McConnell’s resignation presents an opportunity to elect new leadership aligned with voter priorities.

Other names floated include Senator Steve Daines, current chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. But Daines also remains focused on winning a Senate majority in 2024 for now.

McConnell’s decision comes after disagreements with some Republican colleagues over his stances on issues like immigration. It remains unclear how much the leadership change was prompted by internal divisions versus McConnell’s personal plans.

In remarks Wednesday, McConnell said he intends to serve out the remainder of his Senate term through 2026. He will remain minority leader in the interim period before the leadership vote next January.

The election should clarify the direction of Senate Republicans, whether towards Trump-aligned politicians or more traditional conservatives. For now, potential candidates are keeping plans private as they weigh campaigns to lead the post-McConnell caucus.