Capito launches Senate GOP leadership bid as shuffle continues

Shelley Moore Capito is running for the Senate Republican Policy Committee chair, a move that follows current chair Joni Ernst’s decision to run for higher office in the GOP.

The second-term Capito, currently the party’s conference vice chair, said Monday afternoon that she would pursue a promotion to the party’s No. 4 job after Mitch McConnell steps down from the top spot at the end of the year, creating open spaces in the conference’s hierarchy.

The Policy Committee is essentially an internal Senate GOP think tank and also runs some of the party’s key meetings.

“It is critical that our conference advance conservative principles that Senate Republicans, hopefully in the majority, can implement next year,” the West Virginian said in an X post.

Capito joined party leadership last year and has been in the mix on several bipartisan deals in recent years as she’s ascended in seniority. She’s the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the first West Virginia Republican to serve in the Senate since the 1950s.

Her run for policy chair this fall opens up the vice chair slot in this fall’s leadership elections. Ernst is running for conference chair against Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), current Conference Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is running for whip and Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) is battling Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) for the GOP leader job to succeed McConnell.