Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Independence Could Stall Alexander’s Rise

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Lamar Alexander could fall short in the GOP Whip race if Senators make their pick based on how often candidates have voted with the Republican Party.

The Whip campaign began in February, when Kyl announced he would retire in 2012. But after a few weeks of overt campaigning by Alexander, Cornyn and other GOP Members interested in moving up, the candidates went silent in response to rank-and-file Republicans' demands that they shelve the issue until after the elections. Accordingly, Alexander and Cornyn were hesitant to discuss the Whip race last week, although both said the contest has not disrupted Conference unity or leadership cohesion.

"Under some circumstances [that could happen]," Alexander said. "But I don't think that's going to happen here because our caucus has made absolutely clear to us that they don't want to hear any talk about leadership races." The Conference chairman declined when asked to give his opinion of what Members look for in a Whip, generally speaking. Cornyn, however, was willing to answer the question.

"They want to make sure their leadership doesn't embarrass them and that they work hard and try to advance the interests of the Conference as opposed to just their individual interest," the NRSC chairman said. "It's always a tough balance, as we've seen, between representing an individual state, which are the people who elect us and send us here and are our primary responsibility, but then also the responsibility to help lead a diverse group of Republicans in the Conference."

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