Conservatives Celebrate Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Retirement

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) may be a long-time “boogeyman,” but it’s mostly Republicans calling out the Senate Minority Leader after he announced that he would step down from his leadership post.

“Our thoughts are with our Democrat colleagues in the Senate on the retirement of their Co-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,” wrote the official account of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, referring to the long-serving Kentucky Republican as a Democrat from Ukraine.

“Better days are ahead for the Republican Party,” wrote Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, referencing not just McConnell’s plans to step down in November but the ousting of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the impending resignation of RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

“This is good news,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), a longtime McConnell critic who backed Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) when he challenged McConnell for his job last year.

“One of his great legacies will be the avalanche of corporate money that has disfigured our politics,” Hawley said, even though he benefited from over $20 million in spending from McConnell’s super PAC when he ran for Senate in 2018.

Scott, for his part, hailed McConnell’s decision as an opportunity actually to reflect the aspirations of voters. Compare that to the reaction from McConnell’s Democratic counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“I am very proud that we both came together in the last few years to lead the Senate forward at critical moments when our country needed us,” wrote Schumer, referencing pandemic-era stimulus legislation, certifying the election on January 6, 2021, and their agreement on providing aid to Ukraine.

But McConnell comes from a different generation than many House and Senate Republicans, and he’s had a rocky relationship with former President Trump since January 6.

Furthermore, many Republicans view McConnell’s support for Ukraine as being out of step with the priorities of the party’s base, and he’s been ridiculed from the right for working with Schumer and Senate Democrats on bipartisan initiatives in recent years.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) alluded to these criticisms in a terse statement on McConnell’s retirement, saying he hopes “he chooses to spend the remainder of his time fighting to secure America’s borders and unifying our conference.”