Just one day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would step down from his post in November, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has announced he will be running to replace him as Senate GOP Leader.

Cornyn made the announcement on Thursday morning, pointing to his two terms as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and time as Republican Whip as reasons to support his candidacy.

“During my two terms as NRSC Chair, we shrunk Democrats’ majority by five seats and laid the foundation to retake the majority in 2014. Then as the Republican Whip, I helped President Trump advance his agenda through the Senate, including passing historic tax reform and remaking our judiciary—including two Supreme Court Justices. Throughout my time I’ve built a track record of listening to colleagues and seeking consensus while leading the fight to stop bad policies that are harmful to our nation and the conservative cause,” said Cornyn. 

He went on to say he believes the Senate is broken and that he can play “a major role in fixing it.”

From experience, I have learned what works in the Senate and what does not, and I am confident Senate Republicans can restore our institution to the essential role it serves in our constitutional republic. We will improve communication, increase transparency, and ensure the inclusion of every Member’s expertise and opinion. We will restore the important role of Senate committees and reestablish the regular appropriations process, rather than lurch from one crisis to another. And we will return power back to our members; there will be no more backroom deals or forced votes on bills without adequate time for review, debate, and amendment.

Cornyn’s entry comes as little surprise to political observers, as he has gone on the record over the last few years as being interested in the position should McConnell step down.

While support among his colleagues in the Senate remains to be seen, he has faced turbulence among Republicans in his home state.

In 2022, Cornyn joined with Democrats to help pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The law was criticized for incentivizing states to impose “red flag” laws. The purpose of such laws is to deny otherwise law-abiding citizens their right to purchase firearms by circumventing the Constitution’s due process protections. 

Cornyn was condemned by the Republican Party of Texas during their convention which took place right as the gun control proposal was being moved through the Senate. Cornyn was loudly booed during his speech to delegates, while a resolution denounced red flag laws as “a pre-crime punishment of people not adjudicated guilty.

A poll of Republican delegates in Texas found that 67 percent disapproved of the senior senator. 

The fallout led to legislation filed in the Texas House that would amend the state election code by creating a recall provision for United States senators, though it was not given a vote.

Cornyn also came under fire from Attorney General Ken Paxton this week after a court struck down provisions of a $1.7 trillion spending bill that Cornyn supported.

As of publishing, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has not commented on his counterpart’s candidacy.

Cornyn is currently the only candidate to have announced for the position, though U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota is reportedly among those quietly considering a bid.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens