FANCY FARM, Ky. (KT) — Already the longest-serving Republican leader ever in the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intends to cement his place in history with yet another term.
McConnell, 76, told GOP faithful in western Kentucky on Saturday that he will run for re-election in 2020.
"I don't like starting late,” he said.
McConnell, the architect of a Republican resurgence in Kentucky that put the GOP in control of both U.S. Senate seats, all but one of the U.S. House seats, both chambers of the state Legislature and the governor’s office.
McConnell’s re-election announcement came as no surprise. He has said all along he intends to seek another term.
McConnell was in western Kentucky to attend a church picnic in the tiny community of Fancy Farm. That picnic, which includes an afternoon of political speeches, dates to 1880 and has become the place where candidates go to kick off their campaigns.
Aside from McConnell's announcement that he was going to run, none of the other candidates did. Attorney General Andy Beshear spoke but he had announced he was running for governor a few weeks ago. The other Democratic candidates made no such confirmation at the picnic.
That made McConnell's announcement the biggest news of the day to come out of Fancy Farm.
Using his post as Jefferson County judge-executive as a springboard, McConnell defeated a powerful incumbent Democrat to take his post in the Senate in 1985. He has served more than 11 years as GOP leader, surpassing Bob Dole, the former Kansas senator, in length of tenure in June.
McConnell saluted the pastor of St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, where Fancy Farm takes place.
“Father, I’ve been preparing for my visit to the parish by performing as many confirmations as I can,” he said. “Only mine are federal judges.”
McConnell has made confirming judges a rallying point in his re-election campaign. He says the decision to block former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in the last months of his presidency was “the single most consequential decision I’ve made in my career.”
He said he is working hard to make sure President Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, would get confirmation from the Senate.
McConnell chose Jonathan Shell, the 30-year-old majority leader of the Kentucky House of Representatives, as chairman of his campaign. Shell was beaten in a Republican primary in May by a high school math teacher who had never run for office.