McConnell after Kentucky passes vacancy law: ‘I’m not going anywhere’
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday moved to squash speculation that he could be eyeing the exits after supporting a bill that requires an appointment to a Kentucky Senate seat vacancy be from the same party as the departing lawmaker.
McConnell, speaking to reporters in Kentucky, called the situation posed by the bill, which he supported, a “hypothetical.”
“I don’t think we’re going to have a vacancy. I’m not going anywhere. I just got elected to a six-year term. And I’m still the leader of my party in the Senate,” McConnell said.
“But I had watched this over the years in the Senate as various vacancies were filled and I thought this was the best way to go,” he said.
The Republican-controlled Kentucky legislature on Monday overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of the legislation that requires the governor of Kentucky to temporarily fill a vacant Senate seat with a successor of the same political party as the departing lawmaker.
The bill also requires that the appointment be picked from a list of three names put forward by the executive committee of the departing senator’s state party.
McConnell’s support for the bill has raised questions about the GOP leader’s plans, leading Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, the bill’s lead sponsor, to say earlier this month that McConnell “is not sick” and “is not leaving.”
McConnell, who turned 79 in February, won reelection to a seventh term last year. He became Kentucky’s longest-serving senator in 2020 and the longest-serving Senate GOP leader in 2018. If he stays in office into 2023 he would break Mike Mansfield’s (D-Mont.) record as longest-serving Senate leader of all time.
McConnell, speaking to reporters in Kentucky on Tuesday, said that he would have supported the bill even if Kentucky currently had a GOP governor.
“The goal here, that I support … was if such a vacancy were to occur to have the people as quickly as possible elect the new senator. And in the interim, honor the results of the last election,” McConnell said.
“I can assure you … I would have supported this had the governor been Matt Bevin,” he said, referring to the state’s former GOP governor.