Graham posted his endorsement on Twitter. “Proud to support @SenRonJohnson for Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference. Ron will be a great addition to our leadership team,” Graham tweeted.
Like Johnson, Ayotte was elected last year with substantial tea party support. She also has been mentioned as a potential leadership candidate, but her decision to endorse Johnson for Conference vice chairman would appear to eliminate any immediate move into leadership on her part.
“As a proven job creator, Ron will provide effective leadership as Republicans work to get America’s economy moving. He embodies the spirit of the ‘citizen legislator,’ and his background will bring a fresh skill set to our leadership team,” Ayotte said in a statement.
Coburn and DeMint, who both won a second term in 2010, are among the more conservative members of the Republican Conference.
Blunt, a Congressional veteran with several years of service in House leadership under his belt, could be positioned to earn the support of establishment Republicans and moderates in any head-to-head campaign for Conference vice chairman against Johnson. Blunt, a former House Majority Whip, is currently a member of Minority Whip Jon Kyl’s (Ariz.) whip team.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.