WASHINGTON, D.C. - Tennessee's senior senator, Lamar Alexander, has jumped into the race to be the second most powerful Republican in the Senate, according to one of his aides.
The position is opening up with announcement from Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that he won't seek reelection in 2012.
Since 2008 Alexander has been the third ranked Republican in the Senate. In 2006 he came within one vote of beating Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., for the number two spot, formally called the minority whip.
Besides trying to corral his fellow colleagues to vote with the party's position on pending legislation, the whip is in charge of counting votes - or 'whipping' votes - in the GOP conference so the party has more power in negotiations with their Democratic counterparts.
Alexander currently holds the position of Republican Conference Chair where he has helped foster and maintain what political analysts call one of the most unified political parties in recent history.