Sen. John Barrasso to Run for Whip, Passing on Bid to Replace McConnell

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) will run for Senate Republican whip, one rung up from his current position as conference chair.

“I have had time to reflect on how I might best serve the Republican Conference and our country,” Barrasso said in a statement Tuesday. “After a lot of thought, I will ask my colleagues for their support and help to work for them as the Assistant Republican Leader.”

Barrasso’s decision ends speculation he would gun for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) spot atop the Senate Republican Conference. The Kentuckian has led the conference for almost two decades as the Republican Party evolved towards a conservative populism with which McConnell was never comfortable and in many regards disdained.

The current Republican whip, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), has announced a run for Leader. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the third of the “three Johns” long thought to be frontrunners to eventually replace McConnell and a former whip himself, also is running for Leader.

Barrasso is considered the most conservative of the trio.

In the Senate, whips serve as the top lieutenant to the Leader, serving an important messaging role and liaison between Leader and rank-and-file members.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) announced he will seek Barrasso’s seat as conference chair. That role assists senators and their staffs with a broad array of services, primarily communications.

McConnell says he will not step down until after the elections, at which point Republican senators and senators-elect will select by secret ballot a new Leader to begin in the new Congress.

However, the same pressure from conservatives which led McConnell to retire from his dream job may now turn towards evicting him before his announced departure.

The field for Leader will not settle until closer to the election, although Thune and especially Cornyn are pressing colleagues for commitments to back them later this year. Down-ballot fields likely will not solidify until the top spot is determined.

Bradley Jaye is a Capitol Hill Correspondent for Breitbart News. Follow him on X/Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.

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