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Some Republicans are celebrating the 'good news' of Mitch McConnell's retirement: 'Better days are ahead'

Bryan Metzger   

Some Republicans are celebrating the 'good news' of Mitch McConnell's retirement: 'Better days are ahead'
  • Mitch McConnell just announced he's stepping down, and some Republicans are already cheering.
  • That's despite the longtime GOP leader's record of securing wins for conservatives.

Mitch McConnell may be a longtime Democratic boogeyman, but it's mostly fellow Republicans trashing 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 Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a longtime McConnell critic who backed Sen. Rick Scott of Florida 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 told POLITICO, 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" to "actually 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.

Despite the detractors, plenty of GOP senators issued statements celebrating McConnell's tenure on Wednesday.

Many touted his record of filling the country's federal judiciary with conservatives, including securing the confirmation of three conservative Supreme Court Justices who were nominated by former President Donald Trump.

Most controversially, that involved refusing to hold confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland during President Barack Obama's final year in office.

But McConnell comes from a different generation than many House and Senate Republicans, and he's had a famously frosty relationship with Trump since January 6.

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

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah alluded to this 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."

It's unclear exactly who will succeed McConnell, but three men named John have been seen as likely contenders for some time.

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