On Monday, during an interview with a South Dakota media outlet, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) formally confirmed to local South Dakota media that he’s running to succeed Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader.


“I hope to be [leader],” Thune said to South Dakota’s KELO in a clip posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday. “I’m going to do everything I can to convince my colleagues.”

Thune joins Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who previously held the post Thune now occupies, as formally declared candidates to become Senate Republican leader. Others are expected to join the race. 

Senator Thune had previously expressed interest in the position.

In a separate interview with Dakota News Now, Thune said he is interested in the role but stressed that the leadership election doesn’t happen until after November’s general election. He said he’s meeting with his Senate colleagues to hear “about what they want to see in the next leader.”

“Any transition is a chance for a reset,” he said. “In my view, this is a chance for a reset and I’d like to be a part of it.”


Previously on RedState: BREAKING: Mitch McConnell to Step Down As Senate GOP Leader

Sen. John Cornyn Throws His Hat Into GOP Leader Race

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has already announced his candidacy for the position. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) are also expected to enter the competition. All three have endorsed the re-election of former President Donald Trump, although their relationships with the former President have not always been amicable. As of this writing, there have been no similar announcements from any other Senate Republicans.

While all three leaders have endorsed Trump’s 2024 campaign, Barrasso—the Senate Republican Conference chairman—is seen as the most conservative of the three and was the first to endorse him, while Thune and Cornyn have been critical of Trump in the past. Thune previously called Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election “inexcusable,” while Cornyn told Texas reporters last year he did not believe Trump could win another election.

Senator Thune has served as Republican Senate whip since 2021. He is currently in his fourth Senate term, after serving three terms in the House of Representatives.


Should the GOP regain control of the Senate in November’s general election and also retain control of the House of Representatives, the roles of the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House will be critical in advancing any agenda that Congressional Republicans wish to see put in place. Should President Trump win re-election as well, the GOP will have an ideal opportunity to move that agenda forward; one would hope that the members will have bills and appropriations prepared so that on the first day of the new Congress, the Speaker will need only bang his gavel down and shout “GO!” 

Historically, though, Congress has not been the most efficient organization.