Republicans are closely monitoring a prominent party member this week, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) caused concern among his colleagues when he unexpectedly paused during a press conference. There is now speculation about potential successors should he need to resign due to health reasons.
During his regular weekly press conference on July 26, Senator McConnell experienced an unexpected interruption in his speech, causing him to freeze at the lectern. After more than 20 seconds of silence, his colleagues escorted him away. Upon his return to the conference, he assured everyone that he was fine.
Nevertheless, this incident has sparked significant worries about his health, and some are speculating that it might have been a seizure. This is particularly troubling for the Republican Party because of McConnell’s crucial position as Senate Minority Leader, making him one of the most influential GOP legislators. If he is compelled to step down, there could be a fierce competition to fill his position.
- Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) currently holds the position of chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, making him one of the senior GOP senators. Besides his political career, he has a background as an orthopedic surgeon. Barrasso has shown unwavering loyalty to former President Donald Trump, and this stance might garner him support from the MAGA wing of the party.
- Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), a former Senate minority whip, has expressed his interest in pursuing McConnell’s position, as he hinted last December. He holds firmly conservative views, but despite being a strong ally of former President Trump throughout his term, some disagreements started to emerge in the lead-up to the 2020 election. Particularly, he has publicly expressed opposing views to Trump on international trade matters, supporting both the defunct NAFTA and the expanding Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- Senator John Thune (R-SD), who took over as Senate minority whip after Cornyn, is known for his staunch support of Second Amendment rights and his opposition to President Biden’s green agenda. However, he had a public falling out with Trump in December 2020 when he called for an end to the challenges against the election results. This stance might present challenges for him if he were to become the minority leader, as it could potentially alienate Trump’s supporters.