Thune won't challenge Cornyn for GOP whip

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Dems push for more money for opioid fight MORE (R-S.D.) announced Thursday that he will run again for the chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference, leaving Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines 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.

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“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 strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) will keep his job and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoScalise: House, Senate ‘pretty close’ on tax bill Top GOP senator: House and Senate 'not that far apart' on tax bill Sunday shows preview: Republicans take victory lap on taxes MORE (R-Wyo.) and Senate GOP Conference Vice Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntDems push for more money for opioid fight Trump asked Senate Republicans to end Russia election interference investigation: report An overlooked solution to the opioid epidemic 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) MoranMcConnell works to salvage tax bill GOP in furious push for tax-reform votes Overnight Tech: Lawmakers want answers on Uber breach | Justices divided in patent case | Tech makes plea for net neutrality on Cyber Monday MORE (R-Kan.) has quietly lobbied colleagues for the job over the past six month.

A source close to Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him How four GOP senators guided a tax-bill victory behind the scenes 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.