Thune won't challenge Cornyn for GOP whip

Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense FCC chief pushes phone companies to offer free robocall blocking How the new aviation law will affect your travel MORE (R-S.D.) announced Thursday that he will run again for the chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference, leaving Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump Hopes dim for mental health deal Overnight Finance: Senate punts on Zika funding | House panel clears final spending bill | Biz groups press Treasury on tax rules | Obama trade rep confident Pacific deal passes this year 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 McConnellMitch McConnellPeter Thiel does not make the GOP pro-gay Reid: Trump is a 'hateful con man' McAuliffe: Clinton won't move TPP without changes MORE (R-Ky.) will keep his job and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn BarrassoMcAuliffe: I wouldn't want a 'caretaker' in Kaine's Senate seat Goonies, Pokemon and ‘transsexual shake’ speak to raucous scene at convention GOP passes rules vote over outcry from Trump opponents MORE (R-Wyo.) and Senate GOP Conference Vice Chairman Roy BluntRoy BluntThe Republicans' hypocrisy on minimum wage Overnight Energy: Officials close in on new global emissions deal 40 senators seek higher biodiesel mandate 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 MoranJerry MoranMeet the rising GOP star who already enrages the left GOP warming up to Cuba travel Senate clears FAA authorization bill MORE (R-Kan.) has quietly lobbied colleagues for the job over the past six month.

A source close to Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanDemocrats: We can win on guns The Trail 2016: One large crack in the glass ceiling Portman secures another union endorsement over Democratic challenger in Ohio 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.