Texas Senator Throws Hat in the Ring To Replace McConnell as GOP Leader

Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell / AP
February 29, 2024

Texas senator John Cornyn on Thursday announced his intentions to run to replace Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) as the Republican leader in Congress's upper chamber.

"I am asking my Republican colleagues to give me the opportunity to succeed Leader McConnell," Cornyn said in a statement. "I have learned a lot during my time both in and out of Senate leadership."

Cornyn, 72, served as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) between 2009 and 2013, and he said he "laid the foundation" for Republicans to take control of the Senate in 2014. He also served as the Republican whip from 2013 to 2019, and he highlighted in the announcement that he helped secure the confirmations of Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh under former president Donald Trump.

"We will improve communication, increase transparency, and ensure inclusion of every member’s expertise and opinion," he promised. "We will restore the important role of Senate committees and reestablish the regular appropriations process, rather than lurch from one crisis to another. And we will return power back to our members; there will be no more backroom deals or forced votes on bills without adequate time for review, debate, and amendment."

Cornyn, the first to publicly announce his intent to run, is one of several Republicans who could take the leadership role left by McConnell, who announced Wednesday he would step down as the GOP leader in November. Minority whip Sen. John Thune (S.D.) and Senate conference chair John Barrasso (Wyo.) are expected to seek the position. Other potential successors include Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.), now the leader of the NRSC, as well as former NRSC chair Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.) and conference vice chair Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), according to the Washington Post.