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'I'm Not Going Anywhere,' McConnell Says of Senate Vacancy Bill

Lisa Autry

Mitch McConnell is acknowledging his hand in restricting Gov. Andy Beshear’s ability to fill a vacancy in the event that one of the state’s U.S. Senators dies or leaves office early. 

During a stop in Bowling Green on Tuesday, Sen. McConnell said he’s “not going anywhere,” but  suggested legislative leaders change Kentucky law to limit the governor's power to appoint someone to temporarily take over for a senator until voters can elect a successor.  Lawmakers over-rode Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of the bill. 

While his office previously said McConnell supported it, the 79-year-old senator said on Tuesday he actually recommended the rule change.

“I had watched over the years the way Senate vacancies are filled in different states," McConnell told WKU Public Radio. "I thought the worst way to fill it was the way Kentucky law set it up so the governor alone picks somebody who can serve a fairly lengthy period of time before there’s an election.”

McConnell suggested it wasn’t a partisan move and said he would have supported the measure under a Democratic or Republican governor. 

Kentucky law allows the governor to fill Senate vacancies by appointment until the next regular election when voters choose members of Congress.  However, the bill approved in this year’s legislative session requires the governor to appoint someone from the same political party as the departing senator.

Meanwhile, Sen. McConnell is touring parts of his home state, urging Kentuckians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.  The Republican leader cited reports of GOP men being among the most hesitant toward the vaccine. McConnell called the three vaccines developed within a year a modern medical miracle.

“I learned the flu vaccine is only 50% effective and they encourage everybody to get that," explained McConnell. "These vaccines, two of them are over 90% effective, and one of them over 70% effective.”

McConnell toured the Medical Center’s mass vaccination clinic in Bowling Green which has administered 55,000 doses of the vaccine since opening in December. 

Asked about fellow GOP Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s resistance to mask wearing, McConnell said, "We agree on a lot of things, but we don’t agree on that."

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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