John Thune Starts Campaign to Replace McConnell as Republican Leader

Dr. Oz Declines To Back Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader

( – Senator John Thune (R-SD) has thrown his hat into the ring in the race to become Senate Minority Leader following Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) announcement that he would step down from the role this November. The position has remained unchanged since McConnell was appointed in 2007, but now has several Republicans either rumored or confirmed to be competing for it.

Some have used the phrase, “The Three Johns” to describe the current likely candidates, with Sen. Thune, the Senate Republican Whip, the latest to announce his intention to run on Monday, March 4th. His announcement follows that of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who declared his candidacy some days prior. There has been discussion of their Wyoming colleague Sen. John Barrasso running for either this position or that of the Republican Whip, although he has not confirmed this. The position of Whip will be open at the end of 2024, as Sen. Thune will reach the end of his Whip tenure.

Although the field of candidates is currently small, the vote will be likely held after November’s presidential elections, leaving plenty of time for others to join the fight. Florida’s Sen. Rick Scott lost out to McConnell in a challenge for the role in 2022, and he has not yet confirmed whether or not he still wants to become Minority Leader. Meanwhile, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has encouraged the Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Steve Daines (R- MT), to put his name forward for consideration.

Speaking to South Dakotan reporters on March 4th, Thune emphasized the importance of winning over his Republican colleagues, as they would be the ones casting votes to decide who becomes leader. He said that he hoped to convince them that he would be the right candidate for the job, as he feels capable of being part of a new leadership that would be “consistent, principled, and conservative” and act as a strong “check and balance” against the left-wing efforts of Pres. Biden and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Majority Leader.

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