Republican U.S. Senators elected Sen. Lamar Alexander to their No. 3 position this morning, chairmanship of the Republican Conference.
Alexander (R-Tenn.) defeated Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on a 31-16 vote.
“I thank my colleagues for giving me this opportunity and will work hard to make both the Senate and the Republican Conference as effective as possible,” Alexander said, after the secret ballot election. “I look forward to working with Senator [Mitch] McConnell and the entire Republican leadership team as we work to solidify our party’s base while attracting more independents.”
It was redemption for the veteran Tennessee politician, who narrowly lost a bid for the No. 2 position last year after declaring he had the votes to win.
Chairing the Republican Conference means Alexander will have a central role in crafting the Senate GOP’s message.
His election to the leadership position comes as Alexander has bucked the White House and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the issue of children’s health insurance, and has spoken out on changing the mission in Iraq.
In addition, Alexander’s election to the leadership continues a good couple of weeks for the 67-year-old.
In the last two weeks, the two most likely Democratic challengers to his reelection bid next year have withdrawn from consideration.
Check back later for more on this story or see Friday’s The City Paper …