Where Things Stand: ‘Grim Reaper’ Won’t Retire, Yet

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 04: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following a Senate Republican Policy Luncheon on Capitol Hill on January 04, 2022 in Washington, DC. During the news conf... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 04: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following a Senate Republican Policy Luncheon on Capitol Hill on January 04, 2022 in Washington, DC. During the news conference McConnell spoke on Senate Democrats' push for voting rights legislation. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Or so he says.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters today that he plans to run for majority leader again after the midterms, on the assumption that Republicans will be able to take back the upper chamber in November.

“I’m going to be running again for leader later this year,” he said, putting to rest rumors of his possible retirement, at least for the time being.

There’s obviously a large Trump-shaped haze around McConnell’s future as the top Senate Republican. Trump’s been fighting a one-sided war on McConnell for some time, most recently irked by the minority leader’s decision to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill and to allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own last year by a simple majority, in order to avoid a default. But he’s been mad at McConnell for a while.

McConnell blamed Trump for the insurrection and has done little to support the former president’s Big Lie crusade, beyond blocking Democrats’ efforts to pass meaningful voting rights reforms in the Senate. Despite McConnell’s role in shepherding three Trump SCOTUS nominees through the Senate — and helping Trump usher a wave of young conservative judges to lifelong appointments — the two were at odds over a handful of issues during Trump’s presidency as well.

Speculation about McConnell’s tenure as a lawmaker was somewhat furthered in February of last year when McConnell put out a statement supporting efforts by a top Kentucky Republican to strip the state’s Democratic governor of some of his appointment powers. Kentucky’s Senate President Robert Stivers (R) had introduced legislation that would block Gov. Andy Beshear (D) from his power to fill U.S. Senate vacancies. The proposed legislation would force Beshear to pick a replacement from a list of names provided by members of the party that the departing senator belonged to. It passed in the state legislature but was vetoed by Beshear, who called the bill unconstitutional.

In March, the GOP-controlled state legislature overruled Beshear’s veto. McConnell’s support for the effort made some wonder if he was the senator who might be in need of replacement.

But, at least for now, McConnell is throwing cold water on conjecture about his retirement. However, it doesn’t change the status of his relationship with Trump, which some top Republicans have cautioned could be an issue for the party, especially if/when Trump decides to run again in 2024.

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