WASHINGTON – Texas Sen. John Cornyn announced he intends to run for Senate Republican leader, becoming the first senator to announce his candidacy after Sen. Mitch McConnell declared he would leave office in November.

Cornyn, who was McConnell’s No. 2 in leadership until his term in office expired five years ago, cites his experience in the post in a statement filed Thursday with his Senate colleagues and announcing his candidacy. But he also tries to distinguish himself from McConnell by saying that “I think the Senate is broke; that’s not news to anyone.”

“I’ve learned from experience what works and what doesn’t work in the Senate,” Cornyn said. “And I’m confident that Senate Republicans can restore our institution to the essential role it plays in our constitutional republic.”

There has long been speculation that Cornyn, South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso would compete to replace McConnell, R-Kentucky, when he leaves office. But McConnell’s surprise announcement Wednesday that he would not compete again for the Republican leadership after the November elections has kicked off the campaign earlier than expected, nearly nine months before GOP senators meet and choose a new leader behind closed doors.

Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general who was first elected to the Senate in 2002, is a prominent member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a popular member of the Republican conference who is seen as a steady-handed politician. In recent years, he has managed to bridge some of the caucus’s deep divisions, while also occasionally negotiating with Democrats, as he did on bipartisan gun legislation in 2022.

He is also a prolific fundraiser for the party, having raised a total of $13 million for incumbent officeholders, the Senate campaign arm, and Republican Senate nominees already in the 2024 election cycle.

In his statement, Cornyn said that, in his view, he has “built a track record of listening to my colleagues and seeking consensus, while leading the battle to stop bad policies that harm our nation and the conservative cause.”

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