Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been making the rounds in the Senate, asking his colleagues to support him as he attempts to keep his leadership post. As Politico reports, with McConnell’s ally Bob Bennett of Utah out of the running for re-election and Trey Grayson facing a tough contest in Kentucky, the minority leader could find himself on the losing side of ideological shift in November. It doesn’t help the Senator that Rand Paul has won the support of South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, who could challenge McConnell for the minority leader post.

In a series of one-on-one conversations, the Kentucky Republican has quietly secured enough commitments to back his bid for another term as the Republicans’ Senate leader next Congress, according to people familiar with his work.

Using a whip card to keep track of the senators with whom he’s spoken, McConnell has methodically checked off the name of each senator who’s promised his or her support. The sources said he’s gotten quick endorsements from each Republican who stands a chance of returning next Congress — except for a few with whom he has not yet conferred.

“There may be some differences of opinion among the Republican senators, but one of them is not about Mitch McConnell,” said Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who ranks No. 3 in GOP leadership.

McConnell was never at any real risk of being in a neck-and-neck race for the GOP leadership position next Congress — a contrast with the Democrats, who could very well see Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois duke it out for the Senate’s top spot if Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada cannot resuscitate his struggling reelection campaign.

But increasingly, there has been talk among some on the right about the need for a change in Senate Republican leadership. That talk has intensified since Paul and a handful of other GOP Senate candidates — denied a party endorsement but with a solid chance of winning their respective primaries — have declined to say whether they’d back McConnell if they’re elected to the Senate in the fall’s midterms.

Advertisements