Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib
After Mitch McConnell froze again, a Kentucky GOP leader said the senator should have left last year.
Bob Barney, the GOP chair in Jessamine County, told The Post he was “disappointed” in the situation.
But McConnell’s Republican Senate colleagues have, by and large, rallied around him.
After Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday experienced a second freezing episode similar to an earlier incident in July, GOP senators have so far publicly rallied around the Kentucky Republican.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a McConnell ally and potential successor should the veteran lawmaker step down from leadership, told his constituents on Thursday that the senator “seemed to be doing fine.”
“I don’t know what the underlying issue is, but we all wish him well,” Cornyn said.
But in Kentucky, McConnell’s standing is a bit more mixed, with a Republican leader expressing frustration that the senator didn’t exit his leadership role last November after the party failed to regain control of the Senate in the crucial midterm elections.
Bob Barney, the GOP chair in Jessamine County, recently told The Washington Post that his local party believes McConnell should cede his role as minority leader. Barney told the newspaper he feels as though McConnell won’t be selected as the GOP leader once again, which will eventually push him to leave office.
“We’re all very disappointed that he didn’t let someone else take over as leader in 2022,” Barney told The Post. “That would’ve been a wise decision at the time.”
Last year, McConnell, who has long been broadly popular within the GOP conference, faced a leadership challenge from Sen. Rick Scott of Florida. (McConnell easily quashed Scott’s bid, winning 37-10.)
Barney — whose local GOP chapter censured McConnell last year over the senator’s support of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the consequential gun-control measure that President Joe Biden signed into law last year — also told The Post that the state party is “pretty much controlled by Mitch” and was skeptical that he’d get a full reading of the senator’s health.
But other Kentucky Republicans are standing firmly behind McConnell, who has served in the Senate since 1985.
Scott Jennings, a McConnell advisor and Republican commentator, told The Post that the senator seemed like his normal self during a Wednesday evening fundraiser in support of the Senate candidacy of Indiana Rep. Jim Banks.
“I observed him up close and watched him, and it was business as usual,” Jennings said of McConnell.
Jennings told The Post that he had never seen McConnell freeze up other than the two public incidents that occurred this summer, and indicated that any talk about his fitness to remain in office should be “between him and his physicians.”
Last month, McConnell was confronted with calls to “retire” at the oft-raucous Fancy Farm picnic, where Democratic and Republican candidates have long made high-profile political appearances in advance of elections in the Bluegrass State.