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Exclusive: NRSC Announces 3 Vice Chairmen

Ernst is a senator from Iowa. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will name Sens. Dean Heller, Joni Ernst and Tom Cotton as its vice chairmen for the 2016 cycle, according to a news release provided first to CQ Roll Call.  

All three will work alongside NRSC Chairman Roger Wicker of Mississippi as Republicans seek to defend their new newly acquired majority .  

“Our entire conference will benefit from their skills and desire to build a strong Republican majority," Wicker said in a news release. "I commend these talented leaders for their commitment to protecting our new Republican Majority and look forward to working closely with them this cycle.”  

Heller, elected to his first full term in 2012, ran against Wicker for the role as NRSC chairman in November. He represents Nevada, a key state for the GOP in 2016 as they look to oust Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.  

This is Ernst's second high-profile assignment since her swearing-in earlier this month. On Tuesday, she gave the GOP's response  to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.  

Both Ernst and Cotton are freshmen who picked up two seats previously held by Democrats.  

"I am grateful to Senator Wicker and my fellow Republican Senators for their confidence in me," Cotton said in a news release. "I know firsthand the invaluable support and resources the NRSC provides to candidates and am excited to join their efforts this cycle."  

Republicans must defend 24 seats in 2016 , many of which take place in states that elect Democrats in presidential cycles. If Democrats pick off five of those seats, the Republican Senate majority will be short lived.  

A full list of Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call's 2016 Senate race ratings can be found here .  

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