The health of 81-year-old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been a topic of concern recently due to multiple health scares, leading to increased speculation regarding potential successors for the Republican Senate leadership role should the Kentucky Republican be unable to continue his duties.
“During the press conference in Kentucky, McConnell failed to respond after a reporter asked him his thoughts on “running for reelection in 2026.” The senator, who took office in 1985, attempted to mumble something before falling silent.
After around 10 seconds of silence, an aide approached McConnell and asked if he’d heard the question. McConnell appeared to whisper “yes” in response before falling silent again,” the report detailed.
Dr. Brian Monahan, the Capitol’s attending physician, has since cleared McConnell of any major health concerns such as a stroke, seizure disorder or Parkinson’s disease. McConnell remains committed to his role as minority leader and intends to complete his Senate term.
The Daily Caller spoke to several staffers with insider knowledge on the possible contingencies which could arise from a McConnell health calamity, suggesting a variety of somewhat boring alternatives to the octogenarian majority leader.
“The alternative is really just a look-a-like in Cornyn or Thune. My understanding is that Thune is likely to really inherit the McConnell infrastructure and he seems to be the one that is likely to get it. At some point when McConnell does leave, in some form or fashion, I don’t think Cornyn is without a shot. I think he has a chance but I don’t see anybody else. I don’t see a viable outsider alternative coming into play,” a former Senate chief of staff revealed.
Another former Senate chief of staff elaborated on the dynamics within the Senate, categorizing senators into three groups: strong McConnell allies, those opposed to McConnell, and a middle group that tends to support whoever is in leadership. This individual argued that this arrangement would benefit McConnell’s allies, as those in the middle group would be insufficiently motivated to challenge those close to Kentucky senator.
A current Senate aide echoed the sentiment that Sens. John Thune and John Cornyn are the most probable successors. The aide also hinted at the possibility of other senators, such as Joni Ernst or Steve Daines eyeing the leadership position.
“Thune and Cornyn are seen as the most natural successors. Right? Because they’re kind of doing the job right now to be totally candid. And Cornyn, you know has been in leadership. But I don’t think I don’t know that the field will be limited to just those two. I think there are a lot of senators I mean, this will be the first leadership election in 16 years,” the Senate aide stated.
Another perspective came from a former Senate aide who said, “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.”
However, not all senators are in agreement with the current leadership. Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who has a history of tensions with the Republican leader, expressed his reservations about McConnell’s leadership capabilities.
“Do I think McConnell should be leader? No. If you’re concerned about Biden’s ability to do his job then you’ve got to be concerned when it’s somebody of your own party,” Hawley asserted.
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