McConnell to step down as Senate leader: Here’s a look at his 50 years in politics

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced plans Wednesday to step down from the role come November, marking the end of a storied career as the nation’s longest-serving U.S. Senate leader.

While McConnell, 82, will continue to serve out his term until it ends in 2027, the Republican marked the announcement Wednesday by reflecting on his more than 50 years in politics. He is the longest-serving U.S. senator from Kentucky, having served seven terms.

“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “So I stand before you today ... to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.”

Here’s a look back at his career and time holding public office:

  • 1974 to 1978: McConnell first serves as a deputy U.S. assistant attorney general under President Gerald Ford from 1974 to 1975. Before his election to the Senate in 1984, McConnell was the Jefferson County judge-executive from 1978 up until commencing his Senate term Jan. 3, 1985.

  • 1984: McConnell is first elected to the Senate, at the time making history as the only Republican challenger in the country to defeat an incumbent. He was also the first Republican to win a statewide Kentucky race since 1968, according to his Senate biography.

  • 2003 to 2007: McConnell is elected majority whip and serves in the leadership role during the 108th and 109th Congresses.

  • 2007 to 2015: McConnell becomes minority leader, replacing Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., when control of the Senate changes hands.

  • 2015 to 2021: McConnell is reelected majority leader. In the spring of 2016, McConnell directed Senate Republicans not to consider then President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick. McConnell has previously called the decision the “single-most consequential” of his career and later led to the overturning of the landmark abortion rights case Roe. V. Wade. McConnell is also instrumental in helping to reshape the federal judiciary during President Donald Trump’s term.

  • 2021 to 2024: McConnell serves as minority leader during the 117th and 118th Congresses.

  • Fen. 28, 2024: McConnell announces he will serve his last term as a Republican Senate leader and step down from the role in November.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

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