GOP Surprised by McConnell’s Exit Announcement

( – Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, 82, announced that he will step down as the Senate Republican leader in November, a move that surprised many Republicans.

Though he will not be the Senate Republican leader after November, McConnell, the longest-serving Senate leader in history, will finish serving his current term that ends January 2027. First elected to the Senate in 1984, McConnell has served as the Senate Republican leader since 2006. Though he gave no reason for the timing of his announcement, McConnell added that it is time for “the next generation” to take over.

Following his February 28th announcement, many Republicans commented on McConnell’s decision to exit the leadership role, which only his closest allies knew about before his announcement.

North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer said he thinks McConnell’s announcement is an indication that McConnell understands both “his personal situation,” and the current “political climate.” That change in the political climate has moved the Republican Party more toward former President Donald Trump and meant that McConnell has often been criticized by some Republicans, with Florida Sen. Rick Scott, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, and Ohio Sen. JD Vance among those who have spoken out against McConnell.

Vance said he thinks McConnell stepping down is “a good thing,” adding that he hopes the new leader is “more in tune” with Republican voters.

Hawley, who in 2022 voted against McConnell as leader, said it is “time to turn the page.” He also questioned why the Republican Party needs to wait seven months for change, adding that the Republican Party needs “good leadership” now.

Not all Republicans reacted to the news with criticism. Maine Sen. Susan Collins was the first to shake his hand after he made his announcement. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also said that in the last quarter century, nobody has “had a greater impact on the Senate” than McConnell.

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