LOUISVILLE (AP) — Out with a new book this year, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled on Sunday that he’s far from reaching the epilogue of his long political career. The Kentucky Republican said there’s a “great likelihood” he’ll seek a seventh Senate term in 2020.
The 74-year-old McConnell, appearing on WKYT-TV’s “Kentucky Newsmakers” program, sounded more like a politician who sees himself in the prime of his career.
“I’m at the top of my game,” McConnell told the Lexington station. “I think I’ve been effective in serving our people, and there’s a great likelihood I’ll run again.”
McConnell, first elected to the Senate in 1984, has four years left in his current term.
McConnell already is the longest-serving senator in Kentucky’s history. If he won another term in 2020, it would put him on course to serve well into his 80s.
In 2014, McConnell overcame a fierce challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes to win his sixth term and achieve his dream job in the Senate.
The big-spending campaign that garnered national attention turned into a rout, with McConnell winning by some 15 percentage points. With that victory, McConnell achieved his longtime goal of becoming Senate majority leader when the GOP claimed control of the Senate.
“The blowout win showed that the voters of Kentucky respect and appreciate the work he does on their behalf,” Tres Watson, a state Republican Party spokesman, said Sunday. “If he chooses to run in 2020, I see no reason to believe that will change, regardless of the challenger.”
As the Senate’s top-ranked Republican, McConnell has been a fierce critic of President Barack Obama’s policies. McConnell’s chief role in this year’s election is trying to preserve GOP control of the Senate — a daunting task as Republicans defend 24 seats, including several highly vulnerable incumbents, and deal with political upheaval caused by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
In Kentucky, McConnell’s comments that he’s eying another term send a strong signal to other prominent Republicans who might vie for the seat if it became open.
On the ascendency for years, the Kentucky GOP holds both U.S. Senate seats, the governorship, all but one congressional seat and the state Senate.
Two years ago, McConnell faced a rare primary challenge, defeating businessman Matt Bevin in a bruising campaign. Bevin was elected governor last year.