Thune Takes Ensign's GOP Leadership Post

Policy Committee slot is No. 4 in party's Senate hierarchy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 25, 2009 3:45 PM CDT
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell looks on as Sen. John Thune, new chairman of the Policy Committee, speaks today on Capitol Hill. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is at right.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Republicans today elected Sen. John Thune to the leadership post vacated by Sen. John Ensign, who stepped down after admitting last week to an extramarital affair with a campaign aide. Thune will lead the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the No. 4 position in the leadership, and play a role in shaping the Republican message and agenda on health care, climate change, and spending.

"We're in a bit of a hole but we're going to dig our way out of it," said Thune, who had served as vice chairman of the conference, the No. 5 leadership job. Republicans elected Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski to that post. Thune captured attention in 2004 when he defeated then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.