Is Mitch McConnell's Retirement Imminent?

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

On March 8, while attending a Senate Leadership Fund dinner event at the Waldorf Astoria (formerly the Trump Hotel) in Washington, D.C., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took a fall that resulted in a concussion, and he’s remained out of the public eye ever since. Now, there are whispers that he might not be fit to return to the Senate and is preparing for retirement.


Sources tell The Spectator that Senate Republicans are preparing for an imminent leadership vote. “Multiple sources confirm that Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota are actively reaching out to fellow Republican senators in efforts to prepare for an anticipated leadership vote,” the report discloses, “a vote that would occur upon announcement that McConnell would be retiring from his duties as leader, and presumably the Senate itself.”

One source says that Cornyn has been particularly active in his preparations, taking fellow senators with whom he has little in common to lunch in attempts to court them.

Requests are being targeted at a plethora of conservative senators, including the sixteen who voted to delay the leadership election earlier this year, a proxy for opposition to McConnell’s leadership. Rick Scott, the Florida senator and former NRSC head who challenged McConnell, ultimately received ten protest votes. These members could prove key to determining the next Republican leader. Queries are also being made internally about the rules regarding replacement, and how the contest would be structured given the lack of an obvious heir apparent.


McConnell was released from the hospital on March 25. Today he tweeted that he plans to return to the Senate on Monday.

Related: Senator Dianne Feinstein Is AWOL at a Critical Time for Biden’s Judicial Nominees

If McConnell decides to retire from the Senate altogether, and not just from his leadership position, it would be up to Democratic Governor Andy Beshear to fill the vacancy. However, Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature recently passed SB 228, which would constrain Beshear’s power by requiring him to choose one of three candidates recommended by leaders of the same political party as the outgoing senator. Beshear originally vetoed the bill, but his veto was overridden by the legislature. So, there is no need to worry about a Democrat being appointed as a replacement.

McConnell has served in the GOP leadership since 2007, and he successfully blocked Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. During Trump’s first term, he and McConnell aggressively prioritized filling vacancies in the judiciary and succeeded in getting Amy Coney Barrett confirmed before the 2020 election.


This story has been updated to include McConnell’s tweet.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Sen. John Barrasso as serving from the State of North Dakota. We apologize to our readers for this error. 



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