Thune Enters Race To Become Senate GOP Leader

( – Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota, second in charge of the Republican Senate conference, announced that he is aiming to take on the role of Senate Minority Leader, replacing Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is due to step down at the end of his current term.

On Monday, March 4, Thune appeared on KELOLAND News for an interview where he was asked if he was interested in replacing McConnell for the leadership position, which the Kentucky senator has held for over 16 years. Thune replied that he hopes to enter the role and that he is “going to do everything [he] can to convince” his Republican colleagues, who he reminded viewers were “the voters” and “the ones who will ultimately” decide.

Thune is the second Republican senator to express interest in the leadership position. Before him, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas announced that he would be gunning for the position after McConnell’s exit.

Thune has served for twenty years in the Senate. He was first elected in 2004 and, in 2018, became the Republican whip, replacing Cornyn, who once held the seat before his term limit ran out. Both Thune and Cornyn are officially backing former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination this year. During Trump’s first term, Thune voted in line with the former president’s positions over 91% of the time.

During the interview, Thune also blasted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Joe Biden and said he is “prepared to lead” the conservative effort to counterbalance the Democrat’s “liberal Schumer/Biden agenda.”

Other potential candidates to replace McConnell include Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, and Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, McConnell announced that he would step aside to make room for “the next generation of leadership.” The 82-year-old said he still has “enough gas” in his tank to “thoroughly disappoint” his critics by staying until the end of his term. The election for his replacement will likely happen in November, and the victor will take over the seat at the beginning of next year.

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