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Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.) has abandoned his bid for Republican Whip today, leaving National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) as the only declared candidate.
Burr, currently Deputy Whip under Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), entered the Whip race last fall on the heels of Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (Tenn.) decision to exit the contest and relinquish his position as Conference chairman. But Burr said in a statement released today that his policy and legislative goals were incompatible with running for, and serving, as the Republican Whip. Burr was considered an underdog to Cornyn.
“In recent weeks, I have come to the realization that the difficult and time-consuming nature of the policy issues I am invested in is not always consistent with a position in leadership. I have introduced many pieces of legislation, including Medicare and Medicaid reform proposals, and I intend to work vigorously to see them enacted. These efforts require serious attention, and they simply cannot be pursued with the focus they demand while also serving as a member of leadership,” Burr said in a statement provided to Roll Call. “As interested as I am in the Whip position, these legislative and policy efforts are of primary importance to me, and being in leadership wouldn’t provide me the ability and flexibility to commit the time and energy to them that they deserve. As such, I will not be a candidate for any leadership position in the next Congress.”
Burr currently serves as the ranking member on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) has not ruled out a run for Whip and could be the next Member to join Cornyn in the race. The No. 2-ranking GOP leadership position is opening because Kyl is retiring at the end of this Congress.