Concerns about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s health are fueling a GOP Senate leadership campaign already well begun. Republican senators secretly agree that the 81-year-old Kentucky Republican looks weaker following his concussion on March 9. The injury kept him out of sessions for a month.
After a disturbing occurrence at a press conference on July 26, in which McConnell froze mid-sentence and had to withdraw to his office to recover, the fears of a man unfit for office became more plausible.
Shortly afterward, he claimed he felt better and planned to resume his position as Senate GOP leader in the 119th Congress, which would begin in January 2025.
According to the media, the field of potential candidates has been limited to three men: Republican Senators John Thune of South Dakota, John Cornyn of Texas, and John Barrasso of Wyoming. Barrasso is the current leader of the Republican caucus in the Senate.
Previously held by Cornyn, Thune has taken over as Republican Senate Whip. Thune controls the floor and negotiations for the National Defense Authorization Act. He was instrumental in the passage of the bill’s 80 changes.
However, he has rivals. The same source also noted that Cornyn, like McConnell, has diligently collected money for Republican senators up for reelection next year.
Cornyn reportedly collected $20 million for Republican Senate candidates in the 2022 election season, putting him in second place among GOP senators behind McConnell and the then-NRSC head, Republican Senator from Florida Rick Scott.
Republican senators have Thune, 62, and Cornyn, 71, in their sights as potential candidates for the next Senate GOP leader.
Barrasso, 71, is a potential third-party candidate in a contest against Thune and Cornyn.
When asked earlier this year whether he would consider competing for Senate Republican leader, Thune laughed it off as “putting the cart before the horse.”
Cornyn has also insisted that he is not seeking the position.
A third Republican senator said that some of McConnell’s fellow Republicans in the Senate are concerned that they are not being given all the facts concerning his health.
This fuels the fire of conjecture about how long he will remain in power.