Top Minority Leader Candidate Declines Challenge

Reports reveal that Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming will compete for the position of GOP whip rather than seek the position of departing Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  Barrasso, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, notified his colleagues of his decision.

Barrasso’s choice dramatically changes the Senate GOP leadership race. Senators Barrasso, Cornyn, and Thune were all supposed to compete for the top spot.

Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota have both declared their intention to run for the position of Senate majority leader. Thune joined Cornyn last week, shortly after McConnell said he would be stepping down from his position in November.

Thune has served in the Senate for seventeen years and has a conservative voting record of 51%, as reported by Liberty Score. Mitch McConnel’s Liberty Score is 44%.

Barrasso is expected to take over as the GOP whip, the position formerly held by Thune and Cornyn, as the two Republicans have been termed out of their respective positions in the upper chamber. According to a report, a security team and a nicer office are also part of the whip’s package. As conference chair, Barrasso’s tenure is coming to an end.

In an interview, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas announced his intention to run against Barrasso for the position.

Barrasso’s choice not to replace McConnell might pave the way for another conservative challenger to join the race against Thune and Cornyn. Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana reportedly received encouragement from former President Donald Trump to seek the office. Trump met with Florida Republican Rick Scott, who is reportedly considering a run for the position. In 2022, Scott lost by a score of 37-10 when he sought to replace McConnell with Trump’s support.

Trump has said that he believes there are many good choices in replacing McConnell.

The Republican leadership of the Senate will be chosen in November, and the new leader will replace Mitch McConnell in January 2025. By 2026, McConnell intends to serve out his tenure as a rank-and-file Republican.