These Candidates Could Succeed Mitch McConnell

( – Republicans are looking anxiously at one of the party’s top legislators this week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) alarmed colleagues when he suddenly froze at a press conference. Now there’s speculation about who could replace him if his health forces him to step down.

On July 26, Senator McConnell was opening his weekly press conference when he suddenly cut off in mid-sentence and froze at the lectern. After more than 20 seconds of silence, he was led away by colleagues. Later he returned to the conference and insisted he was fine, but there’s now growing concern about his health — some are even speculating he could have had a seizure. That’s particularly worrying for the Republican Party because, as Senate Minority Leader, he’s one of the most influential GOP legislators. If he has to step down, there could be a fierce battle to replace him. Here are the three most likely candidates according to Newsweek:

  • Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) – Currently chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, Barrasso is already one of the senior GOP senators. A former orthopedic surgeon, he’s been consistently loyal to former president Donald Trump, which could win him support from the MAGA wing of the party.
  • Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) – Cornyn, a former Senate minority whip, has already hinted he’d like McConnell’s job — last December, he said becoming minority leader is “something I’d like to pursue.” He’s solidly conservative, but while he was a solid Trump ally through the former president’s term, some cracks started to appear in the run-up to the 2020 election. He’s also publicly disagreed with Trump on international trade; Cornyn supports both the defunct NAFTA and the growing Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Senator John Thune (R-SD) – Cornyn’s replacement as Senate minority whip, Thune is a strong advocate of Second Amendment rights and an opponent of President Biden’s green agenda. However, he publicly fell out with Trump in December 2020 when he said it was time to stop challenging the election results. That could cause him problems with Trump’s supporters if he became minority leader.

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