Thune won't challenge Cornyn for GOP whip

Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneWant to grow the economy? Make student loan repayment assistance tax-free. Net neutrality fight descends into trench warfare Hopes fade for using tax reform on infrastructure MORE (R-S.D.) announced Thursday that he will run again for the chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference, leaving Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate's No. 2 Republican: Border tax 'probably dead' McConnell: Senate will pass short-term funding bill to avoid shutdown The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 McConnellStudy: Trump tops recent GOP presidents in signing bills in first 100 days Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown Let’s never talk about a government shutdown — ever again MORE (R-Ky.) will keep his job and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn BarrassoTrump shouldn’t cater to a tech industry that hates him Poll: Sanders most popular senator in the US The animal advocate MORE (R-Wyo.) and Senate GOP Conference Vice Chairman Roy BluntRoy BluntUnited explains passenger removal to senators Disconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page GOP senator: There will never be full U.S.-Mexico border wall 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 MoranIT modernization bill reintroduced in Congress At the table: The importance of advocating for ABLE GOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls MORE (R-Kan.) has quietly lobbied colleagues for the job over the past six month.

A source close to Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanTrump talks big on trade, but workers need action Trump tax plan prompts GOP fears about deficit Overnight Regulation: Senators call for 'cost-effective' regs | FCC chief unveils plans to roll back net neutrality 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.