Who is expected to replace McConnell as leader of the GOP in the Senate?

The "three Johns" - Thune, Barrasso and Cornyn - start as favorites in a list that includes Rick Scott and Joni Ernst.

Mitch McConnell's surprise announcement that he will not opt ​​to lead the Republican Party in the Senate starting in November raises the question of who will pick up the baton of the senator who has been at the head of the conservative group in the Upper House for the longest time. Although no one has officially announced their intention to run for the position, five names have emerged as those with the best chance of replacing the veteran McConnell: The "three Johns" (Thune, Barrasso and Cornyn), Rick Scott and Joni Ernst. However, there is still time for more possibilities to be added to this list.

John Thune

The whip of the Republican minority in the Senate is, a priori, the favorite to replace McConnell. He is a man fully trusted by the current leader. However, he defends continuing with the impeachment of Mayorkas in the Senate, and on February 25 he announced that he supports Donald Trump as the Republican candidate, something that McConnell has not done.

Although he has not officially confirmed that he will run yet, his communique following the resignation insinuates that he will step up: "Mitch leaves huge shoes to fill, and it is with humility that I look forward to having a discussion with my colleagues about what the future holds for the Senate Republican Conference and a new generation of leadership. Until then, thank you, Mitch." In his favor runs his knowledge of the House and the Party and his negotiating skills. Against him he has that Trump does not forgive him for his comments on the 2020 elections and that he is perceived by the hardliners as a continuation of McConnell's line.

Rick Scott

The Florida senator tried to replace McConnell in 2022 with Trump, although he failed. After learning of the leader's farewell, and without announcing his candidacy, he noted that it is "an opportunity to refocus our efforts on solving the significant challenges facing our country and actually reflect the aspirations of voters."

John Barrasso

The president of the Republican Conference in the Senate combines a solid relationship with Trump with an important position among conservatives in the Upper House. He was one of the first senators to publicly support the former president in the race for the White House and also supports some of the most conservative Senate candidates such as Kari Lake, Jim Banks and Bernie Moreno.

For the moment, however, Barrasso chose to be cautious and did not want to confirm his intention to run for office, arguing that he is focused on his re-election in November. "My focus is on the Presidential and Senate elections in November. That is my focus," he told the media, in statements collected by Axios.

John Cornyn

He is the only one of the John´s on the list of candidates who does not hold any institutional position in the conservative group in the Senate at the moment, but who was McConnell's number 2 in the two previous legislatures. Although he officially endorsed Trump last month, his differences with the former president are public and this may weigh down his chances, especially if the former president returns to the White House.

While he did not make an official announcement to run for office, he also indicated that his intentions "are no secret," after being asked by reporters. "I think today it's about Mitch McConnell, but I have made no secret of my intentions."

Joni Ernst

The only woman in this first shortlist of candidates is the current president of the Republican Policy Committee of the Upper House.