Barrasso announces bid for GOP Senate whip amid leader speculation

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Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, announced Tuesday he is seeking the number two position in Republican Senate leadership come November – the role of GOP whip. 

The role is currently occupied by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who is expected to announce a bid for the Republican leader to succeed outgoing Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wy., speaks after a Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on March 28, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“I have had time to reflect on how I might best serve the Republican Conference and our country,” Barrasso said in a statement. “After a lot of thought, I will ask my colleagues for their support and help to work for them as the Assistant Republican Leader.”

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His decision to seek the number two job comes as Barrasso was speculated to throw his hat in the ring for the leader position. 

Republican Whyoming Sen. John Barrasso

Sen. John Barrasso speaks during a news conference following the weekly Republican Senate policy luncheon meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building on Sept. 19, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

As the race begins to take shape, the Wyoming Republican is considered an alternative choice for leader over more McConnell-aligned candidates. 

“John Barrasso is certainly one of the leadership candidates who cares a lot about where the broader conservative movement is,” said Sen. JD Vance, R–Ohio, in a recent interview with Punchbowl News. “But I don’t know that he actually wants to run.”

Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio speaks to reporters

Sen. JD Vance talks to reporters between votes at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, 2024, in Washington, D.C. ( Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Vance is notably often a part of the GOP faction opposed to McConnell and his leadership decisions. 

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is the only senator to have formally announced his candidacy to succeed McConnell. 

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