Thune Climbs GOP Leadership Ladder
By Ben Pershing
Sen. John Thune's (S.D.) colleagues today elected him chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, one week after Sen. John Ensign (Nev.) vacated the post in the wake of an adultery scandal.
The move makes Thune the No. 4 GOP leader in the chamber, with a staff of more than 20 aides and the task of helping the party develop policy ideas as it does battle with Democrats. Thune had served as Republican Conference Vice Chairman, a position that will now be filled by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Until his career hit the skids last week, Ensign was seen as a possible presidential contender, and was able to use his leadership position to enhance his national profile and draw media attention. Now Thune has the same opportunity, as he is also thought to have national ambitions. The South Dakotan was seen as a potential vice presidential pick in 2008.
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