Report indicates Sen. McConnell may have to retire early due to severe concussion suffered in recent fall

March 23, 2023
Ben Marquis

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly suffered a concussion and fractured rib in a fall earlier this month that resulted in him being hospitalized for treatment.

Now there are rumors that McConnell's brain injury was more severe than initially thought, and might even force him into early retirement from his long political career, the Conservative Brief reported.

McConnell was just re-elected in 2020 and, if compelled to step aside before his current term expires at the beginning of 2027, would reportedly be replaced by an appointee of Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear who would serve out the remainder of McConnell's term.

Brain injury could be more severe than initially thought

Radar Online reported Tuesday that unnamed sources indicated that Sen. McConnell's concussion suffered on March 8 is now believed to have caused potentially significant damage to his brain.

He was initially hospitalized for six days before he was released, only to then be transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation facility for further treatment of his brain injury, which the outlet noted can cause some people to suffer from "loss of consciousness, convulsions, seizures, loss of coordination, slurred speech, agitation, and confusion."

McConnell has fallen in the past, including just a few years ago when he suffered a badly fractured shoulder, and he has at times displayed other injuries, such as severe bruising, but never explained how those injuries were sustained. One doctor, who notably hasn't treated the senator, nonetheless surmised that "McConnell’s falls could be the result of a coordination problem that signifies the presence of a more serious progressive cognitive condition."

"Mitch has been a lion of the Senate so long that it’s hard to imagine him not being there," an unnamed D.C. insider told Radar Online. "But he’s 81 years old, and this isn’t the first time that he’s fallen. The talk is he may consider stepping down long before his current six-year term expires in 2027!"

Initial reports and updates on McConnell's health

Axios reported on March 9 that Sen. McConnell had fallen the night before and suffered a concussion while attending a Republican fundraiser event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Washington D.C., after which he was immediately hospitalized.

Communications Director David Popp told the outlet in a statement about his boss at that time, "He is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days of observation and treatment. The Leader is grateful to the medical professionals for their care and to his colleagues for their warm wishes."

It was further noted that McConnell was conscious and speaking and seemed fine, and it was expected that he would be released following the weekend and swiftly return to his duties in the Senate.

That timeline proved to be too ambitious, as CNN reported on March 13 that, per another statement from Popp, McConnell had been released from the hospital but was then transferred to an inpatient rehab facility for "physical therapy."

It was also noted that in addition to the concussion, he had also suffered a fractured rib, and rather than return to the Senate that week, an aide predicted that it could be at least two more weeks before he was ready to get back to work.

Record-setting career as Senate leader

Meanwhile, juxtaposed with the rumors of a potential early retirement, Politico reported in January that Sen. McConnell had just set a new record as the longest-serving leader in the Senate from either party at 16 years, having first ascended to Senate GOP leadership in 2006 and remaining there through both majority and minority status ever since.

The outlet further noted that the 80-year-old senator had previously set the record as the longest-serving GOP leader in 2018 and, having first been elected in 1984, was the longest-serving senator ever from the state of Kentucky.

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