Murkowski seeking Republican leadership post

Alaska Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiBare bones repeal plan gains steam in Senate Overnight Healthcare: Senate rejects repeal-only ObamaCare plan | Ads target Heller, Capito over vote | Dem says ObamaCare repeal effort moving US 'toward single-payer' GOP lawmaker on Murkowski: 'Snatch a knot in their ass' 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 ThuneSenate rejects repeal-only ObamaCare plan Senate delays vote on healthcare repeal Senate might not act on must-pass aviation bill until September 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 BarrassoLive coverage: Senate begins debate on ObamaCare repeal What Trump can do to cripple ObamaCare Top Republican: Senate will vote to proceed to House healthcare bill 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 BurrKushner says he did not collude with Russia, had no improper contacts Dems slam Trump for 'stonewalling' oversight efforts Burr: Nunes 'created' unmasking allegations against Rice MORE (R-N.C.) and Bob CorkerBob CorkerSenate rejects ObamaCare repeal, replacement amendment Senate votes to begin ObamaCare repeal debate Live coverage: Senate begins debate on ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Tenn.) are also considering running for the vice chairmanship, according to Senate Republican sources.