Senator John Thune, McConnell’s Deputy, Hints at Senate GOP Leader Bid

Credits: KTSM 9 News

Senator John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, hinted at a potential bid for Senate GOP leader in interviews on Monday, suggesting he may seek to replace Senator Mitch McConnell.

“I hope to be,” Thune said in an interview with South Dakota’s KELOLAND News when asked about his interest in becoming the next leader. “I’m going to do everything I can to convince my colleagues.

They’re the voters. They’re the ones who will ultimately make the decision.” McConnell recently announced that he would step down from his leadership post after the November elections.

Senator John Thune (Credits: ABC News)

In another interview with Dakota News Now, Thune expressed interest in the role but emphasized that the leadership election would not take place until after the general election in November. He stated that he is meeting with his Senate colleagues to understand “what they want to see in the next leader.”

Thune, 63, has served as the Republican whip since 2021. He was first elected to the Senate in 2004 after serving three terms in the House of Representatives. Thune is one of at least three senators seen as potential replacements for McConnell.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas recently announced that he is running for the top GOP leadership post, and Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming is expected to do the same. Thune is viewed by some on Capitol Hill as the favorite for leader, given his experience serving under McConnell and his support within the conference.

Thune stated that he is “prepared to lead” an effort to bring in a new generation of “consistent, principled conservative leadership” in the Senate, but he has not officially announced his candidacy. CBS News reached out to Thune’s office for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

Two Senate Republicans, Senators Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma and Mike Rounds of South Dakota have already expressed their support for Thune’s potential bid for leadership.

However, former President Donald Trump could play a significant role in the race. Thune is considered the most moderate of the potential candidates and endorsed Trump’s White House bid last month, unlike McConnell, who has not endorsed Trump.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.