Ohio's Rob Portman is considering seeking the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and plans to make a decision within the next few days, GOP staffers said on Wednesday.
Portman, who is not reaching out to colleagues before he makes a decision, is expected to decide quickly, GOP aides said. Meanwhile Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kans., meanwhile is the only public candidate for the positions and is reaching out to colleagues while also apparently working to head off a challenge.
Moran said in an interview Wednesday that he has been feeling out colleagues for the last six months and believes he has lined up the support he needs to secure the position heading Senate Republicans' campaign arm.
Moran said he talked "to everyone in person," noting he has contacted all three newly elected GOP senators. "Based on what they tell me, I have enough support."
Republicans are expected to select a new NRSC Chairman at their Caucus Lunch next Tuesday to replace outgoing chair John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is running for Minority Whip.
Moran said he began his bid by meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Moran said McConnell, while not offering support, was "favorably inclined" to Moran pursuing the post and suggested he reach out to his GOP colleagues.
But McConnell appears interested in a new chairman with a broader national profile. Florida's Marco Rubio who, like Portman, was seen as a possible vice presidential nominee, has turned down the job, Real Clear Politics reported Wednesday. GOP sources said McConnell has also felt out Portman.
A source close to Portman said Portman has been getting calls for a few weeks asking that he consider running for NRSC chair. The source said Portman is flattered but has made no decisions.
Moran said that in "every conversation I've had," he asks colleagues if they are interested in the job or know of someone who is. "The answer has been 'no,'" he said.
Senate Republicans are reeling after losing two Senate seats in a cycle in which they had hoped to win the three or four needed to regain the majority. The next NRSC chairman will inherit the tough task of attempting to accommodate grassroots activists eager to nominate deeply conservative candidates while also finding moderate candidates who can compete in general elections.
But the job has benefits. It can help an ambitious senator build a national profile and fundraising contacts. And the numbers again give the GOP a good shot at winning the majority in 2014 when 20 Democrats will be up for reelection versus 13 Republicans. Mid-term elections are often tough for the party of a second-term president. The next NRSC leader could win credit for a successful cycle.
Cornyn stated Wednesday that "a period of reflection and recalibration [is] ahead for the Republican Party," and pushed back against factions eager to blame the more conservative or moderate wings of the party.
"While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost tonight," Cornyn said. "Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead.
Moran said he is seeking the job because "even more so after yesterday's election it seems more important than ever to see that Republicans win" a Senate majority in 2014.
This post, originally published at 3:12 p.m., has been updated.
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