FederalSen. John Cornyn Says He Wants to Succeed Mitch McConnell as U.S. Senate GOP Leader

Sen. Cornyn said that if the opportunity arises, he’d like to be the next GOP leader in the U.S. Senate.
September 22, 2021
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In an interview during the Texas Tribune’s virtual festival, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that should Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leave his role as the Republican leader in Congress’ upper chamber, Cornyn would want to take his place.

“It’s been my honor to work with Sen. McConnell, who’s been in the Senate a lot longer than I have,” said Cornyn when asked about the possibility of a future majority or minority leader from Texas.

Calling McConnell a “legislative tactician par-excellence,” Cornyn said, “He understands the Senate better than anybody and as long as he wants to be the leader, I will continue to support him because I think he’s been extraordinarily effective.”

McConnell and Cornyn were both reelected in 2020 to another six-year term each, and McConnell has given no indication that he intends to leave his role anytime soon.

“But should he decide to step down and no longer serve as leader, I’ve made it no secret that I would like to succeed him,” said Cornyn. “If there’s an opportunity to do that, I would like to do that.”

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Both born in February, Cornyn is nearly exactly 10 years younger than McConnell at 69 and 79 years old, respectively.

Cornyn said that during his three terms in the Senate so far, he’s “learned a lot” and “developed good relationships” with Republicans and Democrats alike.

“I think that’s based on mutual trust in a place where trust is in short supply. People know me,” said Cornyn.

As Cornyn also noted, should he be elected to that role, he’d be the first Senate majority leader from the Lone Star State since Lyndon B. Johnson was the Democratic majority leader from 1955 to 1961.

But how long Senate Republicans will continue to be in the minority is uncertain.

Cornyn expressed optimism for Republicans in the upcoming elections, saying that between the debacles in Afghanistan and at the U.S.-Mexico border, “the honeymoon’s over” for Biden.

But although he said he believes that Republicans will be able to win back the U.S. House in 2022, he was more cautious with his predictions about the Senate.

“I think the Senate has a good chance of getting back in the majority,” said Cornyn. “The big challenge we have, as you know, is the retirements.”

He listed off a number of GOP senators who have announced their retirements, including Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).

“We’re going to have a lot of primaries,” said Cornyn. “It matters who wins the primary. Because if we nominate people who can’t get elected in November, it’s all for naught.”

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.