Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced he would resign from the G.O.P.’s top Senate leadership position in November, bringing his record-long 17-year hold on the position to a close.

The announcement by the veteran senator has ignited a race between Republicans for who will next hold the spot at the top of the party.

There were thought to be three senators at the top of the race, but on Tuesday,  Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), currently the number three Republican in the Senate, announced he would be running for the number 2 position, GOP whip.

This leaves current Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) and former Whip, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) as the front runners. An election won’t be held in the Senate however until November, when McConnell steps down, leaving time for other candidates to throw their hats in the ring.

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Other contenders for the job are Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana), who has been privately urged by Trump to run for the position. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida), another far-right conservative who challenged McConnell for the leadership position in 2022, was able to secure a handful of votes. Any involvement by the former president in this race could have the potential to draw it out, as Trump seeks to exercise his political power over the G.O.P.

Both Thune and Cornyn have publicly endorsed Trump.

When Thune was asked about his endorsement despite Trump’s ongoing legal battles, being found liable for sexual abuse in civil court and his ongoing denial of his 2020 election loss, he said, “I disagree with him on that [election denial] and, of course, I’ve made that abundantly clear. And I’m not going to re-litigate it.” On Trump’s criminal cases, Thune said, “Let the process play out” but added that the upcoming election is “a very clear choice” between Trump and Biden

Cornyn, the first senator to announce his candidacy, said in a statement that, “The Senate is broken,” and he wanted to help Trump “advance his agenda through the Senate, including passing historic tax reforms and remaking our judiciary.” Cornyn endorsed Trump for president after the New Hampshire primary, although has previously said, “I think President Trump’s time has passed him by” on his electability in the general election.

In his speech, given on the Senate floor, McConnell said, “I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.” This seems to make it clear while leaving his leadership position he will not be leaving the Senate – and even leaves the door open for another run in 2026.

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