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Johanns spokesman Steve Wymer confirmed Wednesday that the Nebraska Republican would like to replace Ensign on the coveted panel. But Wymer indicated that Johanns is cognizant that he is not the only Republican angling to land on Finance, popular for its expansive policy reach and spot from which to raise campaign funds.
“Sen. Johanns has put in for Finance since day one in the Senate and looks forward to hopefully getting a seat on the panel at some point, but he is mindful of seniority issues,” Wymer said.
Earlier Wednesday, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) released a statement expressing his desire to succeed Ensign on Finance. DeMint, who was elected to a second Senate term last year and previously served in the House, has more seniority than Johanns, a former governor and Cabinet official, who was first elected in 2008.
A senior Republican Senate aide said several Republicans are likely to jockey for the position now that Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who was viewed as the frontrunner to receive the appointment from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has voluntarily removed himself from contention.
Isakson announced Wednesday morning that he asked McConnell not to appoint him to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest with his duties as vice chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee. The panel’s investigation of Ensign is credited with pushing the Nevada Republican to resign his seat.