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June 23, 2009
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Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is vying for the vice chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference, which will become vacant as a result of the shakeup in GOP leadership following an admission by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) of an extramarital affair. Senate Minority Lead Mitch McConnell (R-KY) "talked to her about the position and encouraged her to run for it," said Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Murkowski. Murkowski is seeking to replace Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who has set his sights on the chairmanship formerly held by Ensign, The Hill newspaper reported. Ensign resigned as chairman earlier this month after he publicly admitted the affair. The Senate GOP is expected to vote Thursday. The vice chairmanship is considered the No. 5 leadership position among Senate Republicans. "I have been participating and giving my input and thinking down the road about the prospect of coming on in an elected capacity," Murkowski told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner last week. "I did not anticipate there would be an opening until the next Congress...I do feel I have something to offer, a moderating voice in our conference, which is good." Murkowski has gained prominence in the Republican party over the last couple of years. She plans to remain on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where she is the ranking Republican.

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