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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) is flanked by Senator John Thune (R-SD) (L) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) (R) as he addresses reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, February 4, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES
Forgive me for initially thinking that this headline and lede from Politico was nothing but idle clickbait:
What if Mitch McConnell loses?

It’s a taboo subject among Senate Republicans but one that’s on many senators’ minds: What if Mitch McConnell loses his reelection bid?

Well, clearly, it is clickbait, or at least clickbait for political geeks who like to follow what Politico calls a "parlor game." But based on their reporting, it actually seems like it's something that Republican senators really are thinking about, although many—especially those close to McConnell—really don't want to talk about it. Still, "more than half of the 45-member Senate Republican Conference" did talk, and while they see Sen. John Cornyn as the front-runner to replace McConnell, they think there would be a battle for the Senate GOP's top leadership position.

For example:

[North Carolina Sen. Richard] Burr said: “The institution always has a way of attracting fresh candidates, and I’m sure it would do the same in that particular case.”

“There’s a lot of respect for John Cornyn, and I think he would certainly be heavily considered,” added Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “But these things never go uncontested.”

And let's guess who said this?
One top Senate Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Cornyn is not the clear heir apparent to McConnell.

“It would be wide open,” said the senator. “Everything would be up for grabs.”

My bet: Mike Lee, or maybe Rand Paul. Seems a little too anodyne for Ted Cruz, who doesn't seem to have any use for anonymity anyway.

But Cornyn did have his share of backers. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Cornyn would take over, and an anonymous senator said there was "no doubt" Cornyn would win.

The one thing nobody seemed to dispute is this: Whether it's Mitch McConnell or someone else, the next Republican leader in the Senate will be another old white dude. Not that there's anything wrong with that, in isolation—as someone who plans to one day be an old white dude, I feel compelled to point that out—but still, if that's the only thing you got, you're kind of missing a lot of the pieces to the puzzle.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by My Old Kentucky Kos.

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