Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. announced Thursday that he will seek reelection as Senate Republican Conference Chairman, a step that likely clears the way for Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to be easily elected Senate minority whip, the second-ranking GOP leadership post.
Despite a disappointing 2012 election in which the GOP lost two seats, Thune's decision positions Cornyn, the outgoing National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman, as the most likely eventual successor to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as the Senate's top Republican.
"America continues to face enormous challenges and the consequences have never been greater," Thune said in a press release."Our country is at a crossroads and communicating our positive Republican vision to grow the economy, create jobs, and restore our nation's fiscal health couldn't be more important. Senate Republicans have solutions and we will work hard to aggressively take our message directly to the American people."
Senate Republicans will elect their leadership at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to senior staffers. They had previously expected to hold the votes during their Tuesday Caucus lunch.
Thune, who last year decided against a presidential run, has been conference chairman, the third ranking GOP position, since January.
Cornyn would succeed retiring Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona as whip.
This post, originally published at 2:17 p.m., has been updated.