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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.) November 9, 2020Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will step down from his longtime position as head of the Senate Republican caucus this November, removing himself as one of the ongoing focal points for contention in a fractured GOP and conservative movement.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of McConnell’s prepared remarks announcing the decision, in which he says “one of life’s most under-appreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” and calls the present a “moment when I had total clarity and peace about the sunset of my work,” when “I am certain I have helped preserve the ideals I so strongly believe.”

The 82-year-old Kentucky Republican, who has held his Senate seat since 1985 and his party leadership position since 2015, added that he intends to serve out the remainder of his term as a mere senator, which lasts until January 2027, and that the decision was unrelated to his health. Last year, he suffered a concussion and later froze during a pair of public speaking moments, but doctors found no evidence of stroke or seizure.

The fitness for office of elderly leaders in both parties is a subject of persistent bipartisan concern, but McConnell has long been controversial within his own party for reasons entirely unrelated to his age or health.

A longtime fixture of the Republican establishment, he has been credited with helping confirm many Republican judicial nominees (who overturned Roe v. Wade but have been mixed on other issues), but has also worked against the concerns of the party’s conservative grassroots on issues including marriage, gun rights, border security, COVID-19, spending, healthcare, liberal Republicans, and GOP primaries

Nevertheless, McConnell easily won a challenge to his leadership position by Florida Republican Rick Scott in 2022, and serious questions remain as to what kind of leader will replace him. Last fall, a small batch of House Republicans instigated a revolt that ousted Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, but their trouble finding a replacement was a subject of widespread mockery for weeks until settling on current Speaker Mike Johnson, who has since become the subject of his own intraparty discontent.

McConnell’s announcement comes at a perilous time for the GOP’s political fortunes. Numerous election forecasters are predicting very close races for control of Congress this November. Nine Republican incumbents announced their retirement from Congress last year and four House Republican committee chairs have done the same so far this year, leaving the fate of their seats to new candidates who may not be proven or established in their districts.

As for the White House, polls currently have former Republican President Donald Trump leading Democrat incumbent President Joe Biden should the former president be nominated, although voters also say that likely convictions in left-wing venues will make them less likely to support him. It’s also speculated that Democrats may replace Biden, given serious concern among Democrats over his age and mental health.