The University of North Georgia's Student Newspaper




Mitch McConnell Steps Down Amid Cries about Aging Politicians

Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Sen. Mitch McConnell announced his decision to step down as House Minority Leader, causing ripple effects throughout both parties.

Sen. McConnell plans to finish out his term as Republican senator of Kentucky, just not as the party’s leader.

The Feb. 27 decision may come as a surprise in an election year where a major hole in the Republican party’s argument is their lack of steady leadership in the bicameral Congress. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was just ousted from his position and now Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene stands poised to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson as well. Sen. McConnell’s strategy could have merit.

Jaimie Kelly, an associate professor of political science at the University of North Georgia, said that the Minority Leader may have kept age, optics and a shifting party perception in mind before his announcement. Until he steps down, Kelly said, it should be “business as usual.”

“McConnell has always been a politician who knows how the system works and is willing to put the job over the politics of the situation.” – Jaimie Kelly, PhD., UNG associate political science professor

Another UNG political science professor, Carl Cavalli, agreed with these sentiments, saying it was a “no-win for McConnell.”

“If Democrats recapture the Senate,” Cavalli said, “he likely doesn’t want to end his career in the minority… But even if Republicans retain control, I don’t think he wants to serve with either Biden or Trump as president.”

Sen. McConnell’s choice exists in a time where many American citizens are questioning their top leaders’ cognitive ability and age. A poll conducted by CBS News and YouGov on Sept. 5-8 concluded that 77% of Americans support maximum age limits for politicians. This claim seems to have been driven by medical concerns such as the Minority Leader’s “freezes” and President Biden’s foibles throughout his presidential term.

Sen. McConnell seemed aware of this trend when delivering his emotional announcement.

“I turned 82 last week. The end of my contributions are closer than I prefer… Father Time remains undefeated. I’m no longer the young man sitting in the back hoping colleagues remember my name. It’s time for the next generation of leadership.” – Mitch McConnell, Senate House Minority Leader

According to Cavalli, Sen.s John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota stand as the most likely candidates to replace the longest-serving Senate leader. Cavalli said that, while both senators have been critical of former President Donald Trump in the past, they may be more likely to bend the knee to him than Sen. McConnell.

View Comments (2)
Donate to Vanguard

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of North Georgia. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Bruce Clark
Bruce Clark, Editor In Chief

My name is Bruce Clark, and I am the next Editor in Chief for the Vanguard. I attend UNG Gainesville and will graduate with my Bachelor's in Communications with a focus in Multimedia Journalism in 2025. I write about events, academic programs and a handful of other miscellaneous topics and look forward to building our newspaper over the course of the next year.

Donate to Vanguard

Comments (2)

All Vanguard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • B

    BettyMar 27, 2024 at 12:49 pm

    The Republican Party now has a decision to make. Elect a new leader that has the people that elected them in mind. We’re getting very tired of electing people to represent us and then being constantly let down. This may be your last chance to get the Republican Party back on the right track. Quit fighting amongst yourselves and work for US, the people who elected you.

  • J

    Jeff GilmoreMar 27, 2024 at 8:27 am

    Stepping down is long overdue.