Who Will Replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican Leader?

The runners and riders to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican leader are lining up...

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, March 7, 2024. Election-year politics will increase the focus on President Joe Biden's State of the Union address and lawmakers' reactions, as he's stumping to the nation just months before voters will decide control of the House, Senate, and White House. Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg
(Image credit: Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

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Don’t sleep on an important election that is happening at the end of the year. Senate Republicans will vote on who should replace Mitch McConnell (KY), the longest-serving Senate leader, and a fixture for nearly two decades. 

McConnell announced that he will resign his role, but not his seat, at the end of the year. For now, there are two front-runners, both long-tenured party stalwarts: Sen. John Thune (SD), the number two ranking Senate Republican and Sen. John Cornyn (TX), who long held the second spot before Thune. Sen. John Barrasso (WY) looked like a strong contender but has dropped out. 

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Then there are some dark horses, especially Sen. Steve Daines (MT), an avowed Trump ally that the former president has encouraged to run. So far, he hasn’t thrown his hat into the ring. But there will be a strong push this year to support him or another of the former president’s staunchest Senate backers. 

Whoever prevails must have one key attribute: Prolific fund-raising chops. The party leader plays a key role in raising cash to help elect Republican senators. Right now, Thune and Cornyn, two strong fund-raisers, have the inside track.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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Sean Lengell
Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter

Sean Lengell covers Congress and government policy for The Kiplinger Letter. Before joining Kiplinger in January 2017 he served as a congressional reporter for eight years with the Washington Examiner and the Washington Times. He previously covered local news for the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. A native of northern Illinois who spent much of his youth in St. Petersburg, Fla., he holds a bachelor's degree in English from Marquette University.