Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was greeted at his home state’s premier political event over the weekend with loud boos and chants of “retire!” as the longtime Republican leader faces increased scrutiny following a series of recent health incidents.
As McConnell opened his speech at Kentucky’s annual Fancy Farm picnic, part of the crowd—where some were holding signs supporting the state’s Democratic governor, Andy Beshear—booed and jeered the Republican senator and proceeded to shout, “Lost the Senate!”
The senator also faced calls to step down as he bashed teachers’ unions and claimed Democrats are insufficiently “tough on crime.”
McConnell, 81, was first elected to the Senate in 1984 and has provided no indication that he intends to retire any time soon.
“For those of you who keep count, this is my 28th Fancy Farm,” McConnell said Saturday, declaring that it “won’t be my last.”
During his time as the leader of the Senate Republican caucus, McConnell has dragged the federal judiciary to the right by orchestrating the mass confirmation of conservative judges while doing everything in his power to obstruct Democratic appointments.
McConnell’s efforts culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade, imperiling abortion rights across the country—including in Kentucky.
“His legacy now includes the rollback of a nearly half-century-old constitutional right to abortion, which six Supreme Court justices—three of whom McConnell steered through the Senate confirmation gauntlet—have ruled never should have existed,” The Courier-Journalreported. “This ruling directly impacts McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, where Roe’s reversal triggered a near-total abortion ban, courtesy of a law the Republican-controlled state legislature passed in 2019.”
McConnell’s appearance at Fancy Farm on Saturday came after the Republican leader suddenly stopped speaking in the middle of his remarks at a press conference late last month, fueling fresh questions about the senator’s health.
CNN reported that McConnell has fallen “multiple times” this year, with one fall resulting in a concussion and broken ribs.
If McConnell decides to step down, there could be a legal fight over his replacement. As the Lexington Herald Leader explained, a Republican-authored law passed in 2021 “dictates that the governor select a replacement for any U.S. senator vacating the office from a list of three provided by the state executive committee of the vacating senator’s party.”
Citing one Louisville attorney who has previously worked with the Kentucky Democratic Party, the newspaper noted that “Beshear would likely push back against the law in one of two ways: ignore the law and appoint the replacement himself or sue against the law.”