Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Monday announced his plans to run for the second-ranking spot in the Republican Senate leadership.

"I intend to run for whip, but that race is a long way off," Burr said in a statement sent to The Hill. "Until then, I will be concentrating on my current responsibilities as chief deputy whip as well as my legislative agenda. There are a lot of issues facing our nation and the Senate, and that is where I am focusing my efforts."

Burr's announcement follows Sen. Lamar Alexander's (R-Tenn.) decision not to seek reelection as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference in 2012. Alexander's decision sparked a flurry of announcements for GOPers hoping to take new positions in the top spots.

Burr could face stiff competition in National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), also running for the whip spot, especially if the GOP retakes the Senate in 2012. If Republicans do win control, Cornyn would likely gain a great deal of credit for that victory.

Shortly after Alexander made his announcement in September, it appeared that Cornyn would run unopposed for whip. At the time he said that other contenders could get in the race.

"I don't take anything for granted. Other people could get in the race," Cornyn said.