Murkowski seeking Republican leadership post

Alaska Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiKerry visits Arctic Circle to see climate impacts Senate panel clears EPA spending bill, blocking rules Momentum slows for major energy bill 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 ThuneRepublicans question Trump's trip to Scotland Short-term FAA bill would likely extend into next year, GOP chairman says Civil liberties group mobilizes against surveillance amendment 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 BarrassoGOP senator: Obama ‘believes he is above the law’ Republican senator expects Trump will 'embrace' GOP platform Sunday shows preview: Bernie soldiers on 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 BurrGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA GOP senator on ISIS: 'Take the fight to them' GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call MORE (R-N.C.) and Bob CorkerBob CorkerGOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote Trump’s campaign shows hints of change MORE (R-Tenn.) are also considering running for the vice chairmanship, according to Senate Republican sources.