Mitch McConnell is stepping down in November. 3 men named John have long been angling to succeed him.

Sens. John Barrasso, John Thune, and John Cornyn are all said to be potential successors to McConnell.
Sens. John Barrasso, John Thune, and John Cornyn are all said to be prospective successors to Mitch McConnell.Anna Moneymaker and Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
  • Mitch McConnell plans to step down in November from his position as the Senate GOP leader.

  • Three men are considered the top candidates to succeed him — and they're all named John.

  • Here's what to know about Sens. John Thune, John Barrasso, and John Cornyn.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is stepping down in November from his leadership position.

"I still have enough gas in the tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics, and I intend to do so with all the enthusiasm which they have become accustomed," McConnell said Wednesday in a speech on the Senate floor.

It will mark an end to McConnell's tenure as the longest-serving Senate leader in American history — and it comes as the Kentucky Republican has faced questions surrounding his health and how he might work with former President Donald Trump, who's all but certain to be the GOP's presidential nominee again in 2024.

It will be months until GOP senators convene to elect a successor, and it's unclear now who exactly will seek the position.

But three men have long been considered to be candidates — and they're all named John.

Here's what to know about Sens. John Thune, John Barrasso, and John Cornyn.

John Thune of South Dakota

John Thune
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Thune, 63, is the second-highest-ranking Senate Republican.

As the whip of the Senate GOP conference, Thune is in charge of sounding out senators about their positions on various issues and for knowing how rank-and-file Republicans plan to vote ahead of time.

He's known for being the most moderate of the trio. Thune endorsed Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina's presidential bid last year, and he endorsed Trump only a few days ago, well after his renomination likelihood became apparent.

Trump notably floated running a primary challenge against Thune after January 6, 2021, when the South Dakota Republican condemned the former president as he voted to acquit him during Trump's second impeachment trial.

"What former President Trump did to undermine faith in our election system and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power is inexcusable," Thune said at the time.

Thune was first elected to the Senate in 2004.

John Barrasso of Wyoming

John Barrasso
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Barrasso, 71, is the third-highest-ranking GOP senator, serving as chair of the Senate GOP conference.

He's viewed as the most conservative of the trio. In early January, he became the second member of Senate leadership to endorse Trump.

Barrasso is known as a strong GOP voice on energy policy, chairing the Senate environment committee from 2017 to 2021 and serving as the top Republican on the Senate energy committee for the past three years.

Barrasso was first elected to the Senate in 2006.

John Cornyn of Texas

John Cornyn
Anna Moneymaker

Cornyn, 72, is not in Senate GOP leadership — but he served as the conference's whip from 2013 to 2019.

Ideologically, Cornyn might be considered to be somewhere between Thune and Barrasso.

Like Thune, he's been a Trump skeptic — though he didn't back anyone against the former president this election cycle and announced his endorsement of Trump in late January.

Cornyn has at times engaged in bipartisan dealmaking, most recently working to craft the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act following the May 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

That earned Cornyn plenty of backlash on the right, given that the bill contained some of the toughest gun restrictions enacted since the 1990s. He was notably booed by a crowd at a state GOP convention as he was negotiating the package.

Cornyn was first elected to the Senate in 2002.

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