Sen. Cornyn of Texas Says She Will Run for GOP Leader

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who announced his intention to compete for Senate Republican leader, is the first lawmaker to do so following Sen. Mitch McConnell’s announcement that he will resign from the position in November.

Before being forced out of office five years ago due to term limits, Cornyn was McConnell’s second-in-command in the leadership. In a statement released on Thursday, the senator is referencing his time in that position to support his candidacy. However, he is also making an effort to set himself apart from McConnell by declaring, “I think the Senate is broken—that is not news to anyone.”

“I know what works and what doesn’t in the Senate from experience,” Cornyn remarked. “Moreover, I have faith that Senate Republicans can return our organization to its fundamental function within our republican system.”

The “three Johns,” Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, and Sen. Cornyn of Kentucky, have long been rumored to be the contenders to succeed McConnell, R-Ky., should McConnell decide to retire. However, the campaign has gotten underway sooner than anticipated thanks to the veteran leader’s unexpected revelation on Wednesday that he will not seek the Republican leadership again following the November elections. This announcement comes about nine months before GOP senators are scheduled to convene and select a new leader behind closed doors.

A well-liked member of the GOP conference and a well-known member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cornyn is a former Texas attorney general who was first elected to the Senate in 2002. He has periodically engaged in negotiations with Democrats, as he did on bipartisan gun legislation in 2022, and has been able to heal some of the caucus’ significant divisions in recent years.

In the 2024 cycle, he has already collected $13 million for Senate Republican nominees, the party’s Senate campaign arm, and incumbents. He is also a very active fundraiser for the party.

“A track record of listening to colleagues and seeking consensus, while leading the fight to stop bad policies that are harmful to our nation and the conservative cause,” according to Cornyn, is what he believes he has “built.”

Cornyn pledged to strive to move budget measures individually, enhance communication, and try to involve each member in decision-making. This is a reaction to several senators’ repeated grievances regarding large year-end spending legislation and McConnell’s hierarchical leadership style.

Following McConnell’s declaration, Thune, the current No. 2 Republican, and Barrasso, the chairman of the Senate GOP conference, have both left the door open to runs. Neither has formally declared their candidacy.

McConnell’s resignation, Thune told reporters on Wednesday, leaves “big shoes to fill,” but this is also an opportunity “to reflect on his service and and honor him for that.” After that, we’ll decide where to go. Barrasso declared that he would speak with other senators and hear their opinions regarding the “direction they want to take.”

Over the next few months, a large portion of the leadership contest is probably going to happen behind closed doors during phone calls, one-on-one meetings, and private events. In contrast to the House, where the speaker is chosen by both parties in a recently chaotic and public ceremony, the Senate party leadership is selected in secret ballot conferences held behind closed doors. Within hours of McConnell’s announcement, Cornyn was already calling senators and corresponding with them.

Since McConnell was elected as leader in 2007, Republican senators have not selected a new leader. That was before the majority of the senators in office today.

Which of the three “Johns” would be more advantageous among their peers is unknown.

Despite Cornyn’s popularity and notoriety for his fundraising, Thune, McConnell’s current deputy, may benefit from tenure. Out of the three, Barrasso has moved the furthest to the right and is the first to support former President Donald Trump in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Thune and Cornyn have already denounced Trump, particularly in the wake of his supporters’ attack on the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. But as it seemed more likely that he would be the party’s nominee this year, they all eventually endorsed him.

Other candidates, perhaps from the party wing closest to Trump, will undoubtedly run as well.

At Trump’s insistence, Florida Senator Rick Scott ran against McConnell in 2022 and received ten votes; he was eligible to run again. Although Scott stated he was concentrating on his own reelection campaign this year, he seemed amenable to a subsequent run.

After McConnell made his announcement, Scott remarked, “I think there’s a better way to run the Senate.” “So let’s wait and see.”

The unexpected rush to choose the next leader occurs as McConnell, 82, is being criticized more and more by members of his own party who feel that a leadership transition is necessary. They have attacked McConnell for his endorsement of the massive end-of-year spending legislation and, more lately, for his vocal support of aid to Ukraine. More and more attendees at his conference are against the aid, arguing that it would be better used inside the United States or at the border with Mexico.

Along with Trump, the leader of the Republican Party disagreed, claiming that the latter was “practically and morally responsible” for the attack on the Capitol. Before that, the two had not spoken, and Trump regularly criticizes him in public.

In his Senate floor speech, McConnell addressed his detractors and announced his intention to resign from that position.

McConnell remarked, “Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this specific moment in time.” “I have a lot of shortcomings, but misinterpreting politics is not one of them.”

In line with his detractors, he advocated for a “new generation” to take over.

Many senators applauded McConnell’s legacy in the hours that followed the revelation, as the first shock subsided and the Senate confirmed three conservative justices who skewed the court to the right.

Some people were more concerned with the future.

“This is a positive step forward,” stated Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a vocal opponent of McConnell. “Why did you wait for so long?” is my query.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *