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Here’s Who Could Replace McConnell As Senate Majority Leader

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Should Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell step down from the top position in Congress, Republicans will be looking for someone savvy enough to accomplish a difficult legislative to-do list and trusted by the president.

President Donald Trump has not held back in his repeated criticisms of McConnell. Trump blames him for failing to repeal Obamacare in the first six months that Republicans controlled both the Congress and the presidency.

A Senate majority leader under Trump has a difficult job of working to pass complex legislation, including Obamacare repeal, immigration reform, tax reform and a massive infrastructure spending bill, in a sharply-divided chamber with a slight majority. All without attracting the ire of the commander in chief.

Here are seven senators that could be tapped to lead the caucus in the unlikely event McConnell steps down or retires:

John Cornyn

As the number two in GOP Senate leadership, current Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn would be the obvious replacement for McConnell.

He’s known for taking tough jobs that other senators don’t want and even told Politico in March that the majority leadership position is “something I would be interested in doing.”

Republican leadership positions are term-limited, and Cornyn will be ineligible to continue as majority whip after 2018. He may retire, as many whips do when their terms are up, or look for his time as the top dog.

Thad Cochran

As the second most senior Republican in the Senate, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi holds a commanding position in the body. He chairs the largest Senate committee, the Committee on Appropriations, overseeing 12 subcommittees.

The Senate leadership position isn’t just about being popular. It’s about wrangling votes, building coalitions, and understanding unique Senate rules to accomplish one’s objectives. A deep understanding of how committees work goes a long way.

Lindsey Graham

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is one of the most outspoken members of the Republican caucus. He’s polished on the Senate floor and knows how to grab headlines.

He’s not a strong supporter of Trump, but he was quick to disagree with McConnell’s statement that Trump had “high expectations” for passing Obamacare repeal. “I like Mitch, but for eight years, we’ve been saying we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s not like we made this up overnight. We have been working on repealing Obamacare all year,” Graham said on Fox News Radio’s “The Brian Kilmeade Show.”

Graham’s short campaign for the presidential nomination in the 2016 cycle indicates that he has ambitions for higher office, but perhaps he would settle for the top job in the Senate.

Orrin Hatch

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is one of the most senior Republicans, and the second most senior senator in the chamber. While he considered retiring in 2018, he decided to stay to help Trump fight against the ingrained Washington establishment.

Trump was even influential in convincing Hatch to not retire after four decades in the Senate. “His pitch is he needs me,” Hatch said of Trump in March. “Things are going to be just fine.”

As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Hatch leads an influential group, but it’s unclear whether he’d consider taking the top leadership position. Hatch expressed complete support of McConnell on Twitter Thursday, calling him the “best leader we’ve had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges.”

Chuck Grassley

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley has been in the Senate since 1981. He’s proved adept at attracting co-sponsors on his bills and resolutions, ranking third highest for that particular skill in 2015, according to GovTrack.

The Senate leadership position isn’t about being popular. It’s about wrangling votes, building coalitions, and understanding unique Senate rules to accomplish one’s objectives. A deep understanding of how committees’ work goes a long way.

Grassley chairs both the Committee on the Judiciary and the International Narcotics Control Caucus. He hasn’t been afraid to call out Trump administration policies — like ignoring oversight requests from Democratic senators — which is a key skill in a caucus that wishes to preserve some independence from the president.

Shelley Capito

Having the support of Trump may not be as important as having the respect senators representing Trump supporters, but West Virginia Sen. Shelley Capito has both.

Trump endorsed Capito’s Senate campaign in 2014, and though she’s a junior Senator to Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, she would be a key ally to the Trump administration.

John Barrasso

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso is a relatively new senator (he was elected in 2006), but in his tenure, he’s served on an impressive number of committees. He now chairs the Committee on the Environment and Public Works and leads the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

Trump praised Barrasso’s performance on Fox News during the campaign as Trump was working to rally Republicans behind his nomination.

Barrasso has “every confidence in Leader McConnell, as does the rest of the conference. His leadership remains indispensable for unity and legislative success this fall,” he said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

McConnell has led Republicans in the Senate for more than a decade, most of that time as minority leader. His Republican colleagues unanimously elected him majority leader in 2014. He enjoys strong, almost universal, support from his fellow senators, even though he has the highest dispproval rating among the upper chamber.

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  • Kim Chul Soo

    I wouldn’t let Pussy Graham within a mile of the Senate Majority Leader’s Desk.

  • liberty4all

    No sane person would even consider a RINO like Lindsay Graham for re-election, let alone a leadership position.

  • HopalongCassidy

    None of the above. How about Ted Cruz or Rand Paul?

  • fb274

    1. John Coryn – Talk is about all he does. Texas needs to rid themselves of his representation.

    2. Thad Cochran – Way past prime and bordering on incompetency – In collusion with DNC, Mitch McConnell and Senate PAC pulling Dirty Tricks in Miss. against Chris McDaniels with H. Barbour and Prebius help.

    3. Graham will be lucky to keep his backside out of prison once the info of Bulgaria Arsenal Mfg. finally gains traction like the spy ring of the Awan Brothers takes headlines. Was Graham paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to get into the 2016 race to dilute the votes to insure Trump was the nominee?

    4. Orin Hatch – Time for him to retire.

    5. Chuck Grassley – sometimes effective if he has a good staff. He’s been in the Senate too long as well.

    6. Shelley Capito

    7 John Barrasso – Anything the RINOs want to do is fine with him. Cut of the same cloth as McConnell and Coryn–no backbone.

  • fb274

    Don’t think Cruz wants that position. Not certain Paul would be effective and he doesn’t control his anger against his party peers. Graham, Pataki, Kasich and even Fiorina were enticed to enter the 2016 campaign and coffers and pockets filled with Soros coins to insure Trump, if he stayed in the race, was the one to compete against Hillary. Notice the AM after Sen. Cruz suspended his campaign, Kasich did likewise. The majority of others did not remove their names from ballots when they suspended continuing the dilution of votes among too many. Clinton knew she had an easy win in the bag……….why the loss stings still today and none of the DEMs with their different kinds of cheating they did in the Primary against Bernie, they were afraid to pull much in the Gen. Elec. (Lawsuits against the DNC & Clinton had been filed before the end of the DEM primary-all being put on notice about corruption.

  • Belle


  • harrydweeks

    Bahahahaha…….. from bad to worse.

  • Hope

    Not a great list by any means…Doesn’t speak well for the GOP

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  • Eileen

    What a choice. Maybe Trump ought to be glad Sen McConnell is Leader. Those choices are worse!