Thune won't challenge Cornyn for GOP whip

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone Toyota halts self-driving car tests on public roads Senate Commerce presses Facebook, Cambridge Analytica for answers on data MORE (R-S.D.) announced Thursday that he will run again for the chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference, leaving Sen. John CornynJohn CornynWhite House officials expect short-term funding bill to avert shutdown Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (R-Texas) a clear path to become Senate GOP whip.

“America continues to face enormous challenges and the consequences have never been greater,” Thune said in a statement. “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,” he added.

The development was expected by Senate Republican aides, who said Thune’s camp showed no signs of a bid for whip.

Unless a challenger emerges before Wednesday, Cornyn will have an uncontested shot to become the second-ranking Senate Republican. Some Senate observers thought Cornyn might be subject to a contest if Republicans failed to capture the Senate majority, despite widespread predictions at the start of the 2012 election cycle they would pick up three seats or more.

Before recessing for the election, Republican senators said failure to regain the majority would not be held against Cornyn, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Cornyn has chaired the political campaign committee for two consecutive cycles and has crisscrossed the country innumerable times recruiting Republican candidates and raising money for them.

Without a race for the whip’s job, the Senate Republican leadership hierarchy will stay the same. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (R-Ky.) will keep his job and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenators target 'gag clauses' that hide potential savings on prescriptions USPTO needs to be forced to do its job and reject bad patents Senate Dems propose tax cut rollback to pay for infrastructure MORE (R-Wyo.) and Senate GOP Conference Vice Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSpending talks face new pressure Senate GOP shoots down bill blocking Trump tariffs Senate Republicans float legislation to reverse Trump tariffs MORE (R-Mo.) are expected to win easy reelection to their posts.

The only potential race is for the chairmanship of the NRSC. Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOvernight Tech: Lawmakers zero in on Zuckerberg | AT&T, DOJ preview trial arguments | First lady vows to tackle cyberbullying Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate Intel releases election security findings | Facebook to meet with officials on Capitol Hill amid Cambridge Analytica fallout | Orbitz admits possible breach MORE (R-Kan.) has quietly lobbied colleagues for the job over the past six month.

A source close to Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone Misinformation campaign is at the center of opposition to common sense sex trafficking legislation This week: Congress races to prevent third shutdown MORE (R-Ohio) says he has received several calls in recent weeks urging him to challenge Moran. Portman has yet to decide whether he will, according to the source.