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.