McConnell Center Director issues personal statement on McConnell becoming Senate's longest serving party leader

By Madelin Shelton
McConnell Center Director issues personal statement on McConnell becoming Senate's longest serving party leader

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

McConnell Center Director Dr. Gary Gregg issued the following statement on U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) becoming the longest-serving party leader in Senate history:

I have known Mitch McConnell for nearly a quarter of a century. As a political scientist, I have studied American political institutions for longer than that. Even if I did not personally know Leader McConnell, I would be an admirer of his work in the United States Senate and his dedication to the long-term health of his state and his nation.

We live in an age of political celebrity wannabes with deep ambition and shallow dedication. In such an age, a Mitch McConnell is all too rare. He is the consummate institutionalist in an age of radical individualism. Today, he becomes the longest-serving party leader in Senate history. Astoundingly, he accomplishes this during a time of turmoil for his political party, often being in the minority or having only slim majorities in the Senate. In reaching this milestone, he passes the late Democrat Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana, who never faced the kind of political headwinds McConnell has, as he worked with solid majorities throughout his tenure.

McConnell also makes history on the 2129th birthday of perhaps the greatest statesman in world history—the Roman Senator Marcus Tullius Cicero. There are many parallels in the two careers of Mitch McConnell and the great Roman who attempted to be the conservative glue during an age of radical change and naked ambition, but that is for another time.

I am proud to hold the Mitch McConnell Chair in Leadership and today I personally congratulate Leader McConnell on making history. I also thank him for caring enough about the future of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to have created the McConnell Scholars Program here at the University of Louisville. For more than three decades this program has been nurturing young leaders, educating the public, professionally developing teachers and soldiers and contributing positively to civil discourse in Kentucky. 

Whatever you make of McConnell’s history-making career in Washington, I think we can all agree that the Commonwealth and the nation are better off because he established and nurtured the McConnell Center as a bastion for civic education and civil discourse.