Republican senators held a closed-door secret ballot vote today on the new makeup of their leadership, after Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced in September that he will step down as the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate.
Joining Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., will be Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Freshman Sen. Blunt ran in a tight race for the Republicans number five spot, beating Tea Party freshman Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., for the vice-chair of the Republican Conference. While the vote was close – 25 to 22, the match up was poignant: a more establishment Republican against a Tea Party Republican.
“I am going to do everything I can to frankly work towards the majority, get us ready to be in the majority,” Blunt said today following the vote. “But also to do what we can to get our work done this year and next year.”
Barrasso, currently in the number five position moves up to the number four position, as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
“This job is to supply the members of the Republican conference with credible, reliable information in a timely and accurate manner but all aimed at getting Americans back to work,” Barrasso said today following the vote.
Barrasso replaces Thune, who was moved up from the fourth spot to the number three spot as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, which was the position made free with Alexander’s departure from the leadership. The position spearheads the messaging efforts for the conference.
“It’s very humbling to have that support,” Thune said following today’s conference vote. “Lamar Alexander is very tough act to follow so I look forward to working with my colleagues as we try and deliver our message and talk about our agenda to the American people.”
These changes officially go into effect in January, when Alexander finishes his duties as the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
Alexander had also talked in the past about running for the Senator GOP whip against Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that was to be opened up with the retirement of Kyl.
So the whip race will now be one to watch as well in the future.