What might a post-Mitch McConnell GOP look like?

Here's what to watch for as questions about the longtime Senate leader swirl

Illustration of Senators Cornyn, Barrasso and Thune
(Image credit: Illustrated / Getty Images)

It would not be an overstatement to say that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been one the most consequential conservative lawmakers of the past century, if not the whole of American history. Over the course of his seven terms representing Kentucky in the United States Senate, McConnell has helped lead Republicans to major victories on tax policy, election finance laws, and, perhaps most significantly, helped shape a deeply conservative judiciary whose impact will be felt for generations. As the longest-serving Senate leader in history, McConnell is an institution unto himself, wielding the power of the position with sledgehammer force, and scalpel-like precision to push conservative priorities by any legislative means necessary.

While McConnell's name has become virtually synonymous with Senate Republicans as a whole, a series of public health scares coupled with a barrage of criticism from former President Donald Trump have called into question the 81-year-old lawmaker's future in the GOP, and in politics at large. Though McConnell has vowed to finish his tenure as minority leader through at least 2024, and complete his term in office through 2026, there is a growing sense that he is in his final act as a politician. And if that is indeed the case, what could the Republican party look like without Mitch McConnell at its helm? 

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Rafi Schwartz, The Week US

Rafi Schwartz has worked as a politics writer at The Week since 2022, where he covers elections, Congress and the White House. He was previously a contributing writer with Mic focusing largely on politics, a senior writer with Splinter News, a staff writer for Fusion's news lab, and the managing editor of Heeb Magazine, a Jewish life and culture publication. Rafi's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GOOD and The Forward, among others.