Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoDemocratic effort to rescind border wall funds fails Democrats, Republicans struggle to compromise on border, immigration funds Lionel Richie receives Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize MORE (R-W.Va.) told The Hill on Wednesday that she will make a bid to join Senate Republican leadership starting in 2023. 

Capito, who currently serves as an adviser to Senate GOP leadership, said that she will run to be vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference. 

“I will be seeking to join the elected leadership team. … I just think I have a good sense of American families and voices of West Virginians and also what the conference is thinking,” Capito told The Hill. 


Capito, 68, is an ally of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers back Biden on potential economic penalties for China  The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Will Russia use chemical weapons? Lawmakers fear Ukraine could spiral into US-Russian war MORE (R-Ky.) and has held her current position as a counselor to leadership since 2015. The position, while unelected, gives her a seat at Monday night leadership meetings. 

But going for the No. 5 spot would require her to be elected by the Senate Republican Conference when it holds leadership elections for the 118th Congress later this year. Senate leadership elections aren’t expected to take place until after the November midterm elections, with the new leadership team taking over at the start of the new Congress in January. 

Capito said that she viewed the vice chair spot largely as a “communications position,” and the role comes with increased visibility including appearing with McConnell and other members of GOP leadership at a weekly press conference. It would also come as the party has been locked in a rolling, and sometimes public, discussion about its direction in the wake of the 2020 elections, when they lost control of the White House and the Senate. 

“Working with the conference that sometimes has diverse views to try to pull it together to where we share the common goals and how we’re going to get there and then working with obviously the leader and others to put forward good policy directives, good political objectives and then communicating that not just to the members but to the country at large,” Capito said about how she would approach the role.

Capito said that she had already spoken with “more than a few” colleagues about her decision to make a run for the leadership spot. The Hill first reported last week that Capito was mulling a bid, and she noted that other senators approached her after that.

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP raises red flag on Supreme Court nominee’s Guantánamo work  Republicans warn Justice Department probe of Trump would trigger political war Camp Lejeune toxic water victims eye justice as pivotal House bill passes MORE (R-N.C.) said that he had spoken with Capito to encourage her to run. 


“She’s a great leader. … Steady hand. I like the way that she legislates. I fully support her,” Tillis said. 

The Senate GOP leadership team is set to go through changes after this year. 

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntWhite House warns it has to cut back virus response due to lack of funds Ukraine conflict a boon for defense industry Funding fight puts future of US pandemic response in peril MORE (R-Mo.) holds the No. 4 spot as Republican Policy Committee chairman. But he announced last year that he was going to retire, creating a vacancy. 

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP senators urge Biden to expedite transfer of airpower, air defense systems to Ukraine Senate gets deal for quick vote on funding, Ukraine aid GOP demands delay vote on spending, Ukraine aid MORE (R-Iowa) holds the No. 5 spot as vice chair of the conference but is expected to go for the No. 4 position, creating the vacancy for her current role. 

Ernst, in an interview with The Hill, praised Capito as an “extraordinary communicator” and a “worker” and said that she would be supporting her for the vice chair position. 

“I love it,” Ernst said. “I am very excited about her running. I think that she will do just a fantastic job. She has my full support.” 

Ernst won the No. 5 spot in 2018, defeating Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden Fed pick out after climate stance fight Equilibrium/Sustainability — Industrial hub lockdown risks global supplies The Hill’s 12:30 Report – DC readies for Zelensky’s plea to Congress MORE (R-Neb.). Her win made her the first female member of elected leadership since 2010 and the only female member of elected leadership.  

No other Republican, so far, has said that they will run for the No. 5 position, and Ernst noted that she hadn’t heard of anyone else running. Fischer also told The Hill that she would not make a second bid for the position, saying, “I think … a lot of times you pick a policy path.” 

Sen. Rick ScottRick ScottUkraine raises stakes for Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda Senate averts shutdown, passes .6B in Ukraine aid Senate gets deal for quick vote on funding, Ukraine aid MORE (R-Fla.) is also expected to step down from his position as National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairman, a position he was elected to for the 2022 campaign cycle as Republicans aim to take back the majority.

Scott previously told The Hill that he hadn’t yet thought about whether he wanted to stay in GOP leadership. Sens. John CornynJohn CornynGraham to meet with Biden’s Supreme Court pick Tuesday GOP White House hopefuls get Supreme Court spotlight The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Will Russia use chemical weapons? MORE (R-Texas), who term-limited out as the Senate Republican whip, the No. 2 position, and Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerTo build for the future, we need updated rainfall records Lawmakers fear Ukraine could spiral into US-Russian war Bipartisan group of senators to meet with officials, visit refugee sites in Poland MORE (R-Miss.), who previously served as NRSC chair, both hold unelected positions as advisers to McConnell. 

Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesCongress must strengthen protections against insider trading by its members and their families The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Russia-Ukraine, US-China hold talks but yield little GOP demands delay vote on spending, Ukraine aid MORE (R-Mont.) is expected to run to succeed Scott as NRSC chairman, while McConnell, Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneLawmakers back Biden on potential economic penalties for China  Graham goes quiet on Biden’s Supreme Court pick Zelensky prepares to pitch Congress — and the public MORE (R-S.D.), the GOP whip, and Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoManchin delays vote on Interior nominee, citing energy crisis McConnell, Scott face off over GOP’s agenda Manchin pours water on Biden’s attempt to revive Build Back Better MORE (R-Wyo.), the GOP conference chairman, are each expected to keep their spots as the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 Republican senators, respectively.

Thune noted that he typically wouldn’t endorse since he has his own leadership race but praised Capito as “smart” and “well-connected” within the conference. 


“I think she would be great,” he said. 

Capito joined the Senate in 2015, flipping the seat into GOP hands after longtime Sen. Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerDemocrats look to scale back Biden bill to get it passed Humorless politics a sad sign of our times Bottom Line MORE (D-W.Va.) retired. She had previously served in the House since 2001. 

She’s earned bipartisan praise for her willingness to dive into policy and being more of a workhorse. Though she was ultimately unable to reach a deal with the Biden administration on an infrastructure deal last year, her negotiations were blessed by McConnell and backed by several other members of the caucus. 

Capito initially indicated last year, in an interview with Politico, that she didn’t intend to join leadership. But she pointed to Blunt’s retirement as well as her work on infrastructure as helping her realize how her policy knowledge could fit into the leadership team.

“I am very interested in policy, and that’s where my interest is. But where I think I’ve made that connection is that on a leadership team you need different policy … experts,” Capito said, pointing to her work on appropriations and environmental and rural issues, as well as putting a second woman on the six-person elected GOP leadership team. 

“We need to have those voices in our elected leadership,” Capito said. “And that’s how I have sort of come to the point of saying that my policy … background really does lend itself well to being on a leadership team.”  

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