Murkowski seeking Republican leadership post

Alaska Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSessions torched by lawmakers for marijuana move Calif. Republican attacks Sessions over marijuana policy Trump's executive order on minerals will boost national defense MORE is seeking the vice chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference, as a GOP leadership shuffle continues in the wake of Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) admission of an extramarital affair.

Murkowski began making calls to fellow GOP senators last week about her intent to replace Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneWeek ahead: Tech giants to testify on extremist content Overnight Tech: GOP senator presses Apple over phone slowdowns | YouTube cancels projects with Logan Paul after suicide video | CEOs push for DACA fix | Bill would punish credit agencies for breaches GOP senator presses Apple on phone slowdowns MORE (R-S.D.) in the position. Thune last week told The Hill he is seeking the position of GOP Policy chairman, which Ensign has resigned. Murkowski also sent around a letter within the Republican Conference on Friday, said spokesman Michael Brumas.

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"I have been participating and giving my input and thinking down the road about the prospect of coming on in an elected capacity," Murkowski told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner last week. "I did not anticipate there would be an opening until the next Congress … I do feel I have something to offer, a moderating voice in our conference, which is good."

Republicans will vote on the leadership positions this week. The conference vice chairmanship is considered the No. 5 position among Senate Republicans.

Brumas said Murkowski also intends to retain her ranking-member position on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, a pivotal position given the importance of Alaska’s oil and gas industry.

The 52-year-old daughter of former Alaska Gov. and U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski was appointed to fulfill her father’s Senate seat in 2002 and subsequently won her first full term in 2004. She is the only woman ever elected to Congress by Alaskan voters.

GOP Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump’s infrastructure plan may slip to next month Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism Trump's infrastructure team to huddle with senators MORE (Wyo.) was also interested in the vice chairmanship, but won’t challenge Murkowski for the position, according to Barrasso spokesman Gregory Keeley.

“Sen. Barrasso has a great deal of respect for Sen. Murkowski and believes she would be a strong vice chair,” Keeley said. “I understand that he won’t challenge [her] for the vice chair position if she runs.”

Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Senate Intel chairman: No need for committee to interview Bannon McConnell: Russia probe must stay bipartisan to be credible MORE (R-N.C.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate campaign fundraising reports roll in Congress should take the lead on reworking a successful Iran deal North Korea tensions ease ahead of Winter Olympics MORE (R-Tenn.) are also considering running for the vice chairmanship, according to Senate Republican sources.