Follow the leader: Cornyn Eyes Top post in the Senate | NewsRadio 740 KTRH

Follow the leader: Cornyn Eyes Top post in the Senate |  NewsRadio 740 KTRH

As Republicans look to regain the majority in the U.S. Senate this fall, an internal battle could be just as important for the party’s future in the next Congress. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is battling with Sen. John Thune of South Dakota to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader. McConnell announced earlier this year that he will step down from his leadership position after the November election, making Cornyn and Thune the next two in line. So far, Cornyn is winning the fundraising battle (considered a key test for leadership) by raising more than $18 million for Republican Senate candidates, compared to Thune’s $13 million. “Thune or Cornyn probably have an inside track (for leader),” said political analyst Chris Begala. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a hard push from the right from those who say Cornyn isn’t conservative enough.”

That may be Cornyn and Thune’s biggest weakness. Both men are seen as establishment Republicans in the McConnell mold, at a time when Donald Trump has risen to de facto head of the Republican Party and voters have grown frustrated with the lack of bold action in the Senate. That’s why Begala doesn’t believe Cornyn or Thune are a shoo-in at this point, based on the growing battle between conservatives and moderates in the Republican Party. “I think ultimately they’ll probably try to find someone in between,” he tells KTRH. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina comes up in a discussion.”

Senator Tim Scott is already considered a front-runner for vice president on the Trump ticket, while Florida Senator Rick Scott has also expressed interest in the Senate leadership position. Whoever ultimately wins will lead during a possible (probable?) second Trump presidency. “(That person) will have to wholeheartedly endorse Donald Trump’s candidacy,” Begala said. “And I’m not saying Cornyn can’t do that, but I think he’s going to have to swallow hard to do that.”

Cornyn has recently warmed to Trump and even supported the former president after Trump clinched the Republican nomination. It may have been designed that way, with this task in mind. “Cornyn, in my opinion, is going to really want this,” he says. “Minority leader, or potentially majority leader of the Senate, is a pretty good position.”