Updated Mar 5, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump ally John Barrasso bows out of Senate GOP’s McConnell succession race

 U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) speaks during a news conference with Arizona Republican U.S. Senate candidate and far-right election denier Kari Lake

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) speaks during a news conference with Arizona Republican U.S. Senate candidate and far-right election denier Kari Lake. Photo: Rebecca Noble/Getty Images

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) has decided to run for the No. 2 Senate GOP leadership position this year, rather than joining Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) in a bid for leader, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: Barrasso was favored by the more conservative bloc in the Senate, and has the closest relationship with former President Trump of the "three Johns." His exit could pave the way for a new conservative contender.

  • Barrasso is the No. 3-ranked Senate Republican as conference chair, and neither Thune nor Cornyn can run for GOP whip again because of term limits. This makes Barrasso nearly a shoo-in.
  • Punchbowl first reported the news.

What he's saying: "I have had time to reflect on how I might best serve the Republican Conference and our country," Barrasso said in a statement Tuesday morning.

  • "After a lot of thought, I will ask my colleagues for their support and help to work for them as the Assistant Republican Leader."
  • Barrasso spoke with Trump on Tuesday morning about his decision, according to one source familiar.

What to watch: Barrasso's departure from the race could pave the way for another Trump ally to throw their hat in the ring.

  • Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) has been privately urged by Trump to run for the top position. His role as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee this cycle could bolster his chances if Republicans take control of the Senate in November.
  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is also a favorite among the Senate's more conservative block. He picked off a handful of votes from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell when he challenged him for leader in 2022.
  • Scott met with Trump on Monday amid speculation that he will run for leader.
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