A week after they learn if they retained majority control of the Senate during the midterm elections, Republican senators will huddle privately in the Capitol to elect their leadership for the new Congress, it was announced Wednesday.
The focus will be on who replaces the term-limited Sen. John Cornyn for the number two post, as the current leader, Mitch McConnell, is expected to stay in that job.
The elections will take place November 14 in the Old Senate Chamber in the Capitol. The secret balloting – and the intrigue and jockeying that may go with it – will take place in a closed session.
Senators down one rung in leadership could all move up, but it’s also possible they could face challenges from younger members or others who want to shake up the top ranks.
“I’m term-limited out of my current position, having served as whip for six years. (Sen. John) Thune and (Sen. John) Barrasso are too. But obviously they are moving up the food chain,” Cornyn told CNN in June, speaking about the number three and four members of the elected GOP leadership, who are expected to move up once he leaves.
“It’s like musical chairs, and there isn’t a chair for me right now,” added the Texas Republican, who spoke about the leadership shuffle shortly after McConnell asked him to stay as an appointed member of leadership in the new Congress, even though there is no longer an elected spot open for him.
Thune, of South Dakota, is currently the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference while Barrasso, of Wyoming, is the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
The number five post is held by Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a former Republican whip in the House.
In addition to those positions, Republicans must pick a new chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the election arm of the conference.
McConnell has served as GOP leader since 2007 and is the longest-serving Republican leader in history. The leader job is not subject to term limits and it’s unclear when he will give up the post. McConnell has indicated he plans to run for re-election in 2020.
Cornyn has said he would like to replace McConnell when the Kentucky Republican decides to step down from the post. Thune, Blunt and others may compete for the job.