OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Most of Kentucky’s state government is run by Republicans, but one of the exceptions is the state’s governor Andy Beshear, who is a Democrat.
And should Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have to be replaced due to what appears to be worsening health, Beshear — who has the authority to name a successor — won’t commit to naming a Republican.
Beshear dodged the question about potentially having to fill a Senate vacancy during a press conference late last week, saying that McConnell’s office had not said anything about the GOP leader retiring before the end of his current term, which expires in January 2027.
“There is no Senate vacancy. Senator McConnell has said he’s going to serve out his term, and I believe him, so I’m not going to speculate about something that hasn’t happened and isn’t going to happen,” Beshear told reporters.
McConnell experienced a momentary pause again during a press conference in Covington, Kentucky, on Wednesday when questioned about his intention to run for re-election in 2026. About a month ago, the same thing happened during his weekly press conference.
Calls poured in for McConnell to retire, but he has explained that he’s been told by physicians he should expect them after suffering a concussion from a fall earlier this year.
“He was in good shape,” Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said, according to the Daily Wire. “He was direct. He said he fell. He said, ‘I had that concussion.’ And he said, ‘They warned me that I would be lightheaded in the future and that I have got to be aware of it.’ He said, ‘It happened twice.’ He said, ‘It just so happens I’m doing it in front of reporters.’ But he felt good yesterday. He said he’s got to watch his hydration levels.”
Other health professionals have offered other diagnoses, however.
On Wednesday, Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News contributor and physician affiliated with New York University’s Langone Medical Center, told the network he believes that McConnell could be suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
“I have to tell you, at the top of that list, and again I haven’t examined him and I don’t have any background on this — except I’ve talked to some people in Congress and in the Senate — would be Parkinson’s disease,” he said.
“That, in its later stages, can give you a freeze,” he added, noting that his staff members had not reacted with alarm.
Meanwhile, neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a CNN contributor, offered a similar explanation though he left open other possibilities during an interview on that network.
“There’s a lot of things that can sort of come to mind,” he said, adding, too, that he noticed McConnell’s staffers had not reacted with much surprise, suggesting that the issue is ongoing.
“Someone who has a Parkinsonian-like condition, for example, whose medications are wearing off, or something like that,” Gupta said. “That’s something that could sort of explain this behavior.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, Parkinson’s disease is a serious degenerative disease in which patients lose control over their nervous system.
MConnell’s office says he plans on continuing to serve as Republican Senate leader through the 2024 elections at least, which has drawn a lot of criticism, even from conservatives.
“Our government is about to begin what are monumental negotiations over the budget and appropriations,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham said this week after the latest incident.
“Five men are supposed to play a dominant role in those talks. Biden is 80 years old, Schumer, 72, McConnell, 81,” Ingraham added during an opening monologue last week.
“And [House Speaker Kevin] McCarthy, Hakeem Jeffries, both in their 50s. Now this means at least two of those five involved in deciding how we spend trillions of our tax dollars, they’re no longer capable of working full time, and both sadly show obvious symptoms of both serious physical and cognitive decline,” she said, likely referring to McConnell and Biden.