McConnell's No. 2 weighs future as Trump reshapes Senate GOP

That sounds a bit like two GOP senators, Roy Blunt from Missouri and Rob Portman from Ohio, who sent the right signals to start running again – until they said goodbye. Given his bright future in the party and his campaign portfolio of $ 13 million, colleagues are certain that Thune is up and running again.

His decision is imminent, however, as the Senate GOP approaches a serious crossroads. Five incumbents announce their resignation and Trump waits to compete in multiple Republican primary elections as he seeks to reshape the party’s Senate conference in his own image. Several other senators are undecided whether to run again.

Thune admitted the state had taken a nosedive during his 16 years in the chamber, which began when it shocked the political world and defeated former Democratic leader Tom Daschle in 2004. He fears that things could only get miserable for the GOP minority if Democrats kill the filibuster.

“We’re losing a lot of talent, a lot of experience, and a lot of expertise. You know, you hate to see good people go. And when the Democrats are following the course they’re on and trying to do everything by a pure majority Obviously it’s not going to be a fun place, “he said.” Given the political environment, it’s probably more challenging today than it has ever been. “

Trump’s vow to fight him doesn’t visibly destroy Thune, a lanky former basketball player. “It’s not something that I weigh heavily in one way or another,” said the 60-year-old. He laughed at Trump’s attacks on him and advised his party not to revolve around one person and focus on issues.

But running for re-election against a vengeful former president wouldn’t be ideal, even if Thune were the big favorites. And Trump whisperer Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Is trying to clear the runway for Thune to launch a campaign without interference from the former president, and is campaigning for Trump to be fired.

“I don’t know what President Trump is going to do about the primary endorsements. But I would hope he’ll take a close look at Sen. Thune. He’s a great guy,” said Graham. “It only matters what [Thune] want to do. I hope he runs. I think he was a great senator. “

Thune isn’t the only Republican whose future has sparked internal party chatter: Kentucky Republicans are trying to change Senate nomination rules to avoid a Democratic replacement for McConnell, a move McConnell backed Governor’s veto. Some Republican Senators have checked a story that ran in The Intercept about possible replacements for McConnell, but privately saying the GOP leader is merely consolidating his legacy and not developing an exit strategy.

Allies say McConnell is sure to stay in office through 2023, in part to break Mike Mansfield’s record as the longest-serving Senate Chairman of all time. When asked Wednesday about his plans to remain a GOP leader in the future, McConnell simply said, “This is a decision I make every two years.”

McConnell was re-elected for a six-year term last fall, but agreed to overthrow the election following the former president’s campaign and what the Senator called Trump’s “breach of duty” for failing to protect the Capitol Trump involved.

If Thune surprised his party and retired early, or McConnell stepped down as chairman before 2026, their departures would undermine an already wavering Republican conference. The five Republicans who plan to leave after the next year all play prominent roles for the party, with Blunt serving as the No. 4 Senate Chairman.

Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said in an interview on Wednesday that she plans to run for President of the Republican Political Committee to succeed Blunt. She is currently the # 5 GOP Leader, which means there will be an elected leadership position next fall.

Blunt isn’t the only one leaving shoes to fill. Retired Senator Pat Toomey, Pa. Is the top Republican on the banking committee. Retired Senator Richard Burr (RN.C.) holds that high-ranking GOP spot on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Board while Portman holds it on the Homeland Security Board and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) On the Funds Committee.

Strong Trump supporter Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Is likely to replace either Burr or Portman as top Republican on any of the committees they leave after this Congress. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who voted for Trump’s condemnation, stands for the party’s top media slot.

The retired quintet could be supported by other senior Republicans. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), As well as Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, the Senate’s highest judicial committee, is undecided whether to run again. Grassley raises money but doesn’t say he chose to run.

“The reason I’m going to make a decision this fall is that a year is long enough for a campaign, but if I run for re-election, one year is not enough to raise money,” Grassley said on Wednesday.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who convicted Trump on his impeachment trial, has signaled that it is running again but has not yet made an official announcement. Trump has promised to fight her too, but she won re-election as a candidate in 2010 and her state’s new voting rules made her way easier in 2022.

Then there is Thune, who basically ruled out running for president as “not something I strive for”. But he’s still keen to be the Republican Senate chairman someday if McConnell ever says, “You’re not ruling anything out.” Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former Whip and Party campaign chairman, is also in the mix for the job.

Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) Said when it is time for someone to follow McConnell, they will be backing Thune. And he said no matter what Trump does and whoever competes against his South Dakota colleague, Thune will be fine.

“He can’t take anything for granted. Nobody can … But he’s the right man for the job,” said Rounds. “If he does choose, and I think he will choose to run for re-election … he will have good, solid support.”

The Thune-Trump conflict stems from the fact that Thune dwarfs Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about widespread electoral fraud and jokes that any challenge in the Senate would “go down like a junk dog”. Trump replied that Thune would get a primary challenge and stumbled upon South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) to fill in against him, but Noem refused.

Given the state’s small population, any Thune challenger would start with a small following and a surge unless Trump really threw his weight into the race.

With Trump out of the picture, Thune is enjoying his days for the time being to fight President Joe Biden and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer in the Senate. If this dynamic continues, the decision to re-elect the brilliant South Dakotan may be a lot easier.

“It’s a good feeling,” Thune said as he worked to counter Democrats instead of answering questions about Trump every day. “Sometimes you have to play defense, but I feel a lot more comfortable playing offensively.”

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