Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been working with the Kentucky legislature to alter vacancy appointment rules in preparation for his impending retirement from Congress, reports The Intercept.
This comes after recent rounds of conflict with Donald Trump, in which the Minority Leader declared that Trump was, “practically and morally responsible” for the capitol protests in January. President Donald Trump fired back, declaring McConnell a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack.” He also expressed regret for his endorsement of the Minority Leader in last year’s election.
Currently, in the event of an unscheduled vacancy, successors are chosen by the ruling Governor. However, Kentucky is currently governed by Democrat Andy Beshear. With Washington, D.C. so closely divided, allowing a Democrat Governor to select McConnell’s replacement would be catastrophic for the Republican party and any efforts to stave off radical legislation in the Senate.
This led to the effort for Kentucky legislators to attempt to change the state’s retirement rules to allow a McConnell-supporting Republican to keep the seat in the event of McConnell’s retirement.
Some legislators are openly referring to the bill as the “Elect Daniel Cameron Bill,” referring to Kentucky’s Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, who is famously tied to Mitch McConnell and is widely believed to be the Senator’s chosen successor.
Republican state Sen. Tom Buford, the single co-sponsor on the bill brought by Kentucky’s Senate President, Robert Stivers, said there has been a discussion for “several years” about changing the way Kentucky replaces U.S. senators.
“It just seemed if we did have a change of venue of U.S. Senate that it would be proper and appropriate the political party that held the office would be the political party that replaced it until the next election cycle, that being in this case Republican,” he said.
A spokesperson for McConnell told the Intercept, “[Senate Minority] Leader McConnell has discussed the legislation with [Kentucky Senate] President Stivers and is fully supportive of the measure.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell won his first campaign for U.S. Senate in 1984, 37 years ago. He has served as leader of the Republican conference, both as Majority and Minority Leader, since 2006. Since joining the Senate, McConnell’s wealth has increased exponentially due to his wife’s connection to Chinese businesses.