J.D. Vance On Choosing Next Senate GOP Leader: Listen To Our Base

When deciding on a replacement for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republicans should listen to the party’s base and not pick someone who will ignore the will of its voters, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) said on Sunday.

“I think that we have to use this leadership election to turn the page on Republican Senate leadership. You cannot have a Senate Republican leader who is far more obsessed with securing Ukraine’s border than he is focused on the American border. You can’t have a Senate Republican leader who seems to ooze hatred and dismay for the very people who vote most of the Republican elected leaders,” Vance told Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“Our base, I happen to think they’re good people and that we should be listening to them more than we do. But you can’t have another establishment politician who seems to dislike the people who actually vote for the Republican Party,” he added. “So, whatever we do, we need to focus on getting a Republican leader who I think is trusted by the broad majority of Republicans. That’s the most important thing. And that’s what’s actually going to help us win elections and govern.”

McConnell, who is 82 and has spent a record 16 years as leader, announced last week that he planned to step down from the position once his colleagues have elected a new leader in November, and that person takes on the role in January. He had faced blowback from some GOP colleagues over his support of a border deal that failed to pass after months of bipartisan negotiations and so far has not endorsed the GOP frontrunner in the 2024 White House race, former President Donald Trump.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who served as GOP whip for a time and has endorsed Trump, became the first to declare his candidacy for the Senate GOP leader. Others who are being talked about as potential competitors for the role include Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD), Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), and NRSC Chairman Steve Daines (R-MT).

McConnell, who indicated that he plans to finish the remainder of his term through early 2027 despite being out of leadership, made his announcement following the death of Foremost Group CEO Angela Chao, who is the sister of McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao. Angela Chao was reportedly found dead last month upon being pulled out of a car in a pond at a private ranch in Texas, and a “criminal investigation” has been opened into the matter.

Vance offered his “condolences to Mitch McConnell’s family.” He added, “I’ve had my disagreements with Mitch, but I certainly wish him the best.”

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