Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) “plans to announce his 2012 intentions in February, and a decision by the Arizona Republican to retire could ignite a heated race for his No. 2 slot while unleashing significant changes within the GOP leadership,” Roll Call reports.
Kyl said he is close to a decision on whether to seek a fourth term. But the Minority Whip is keeping close counsel — so much so that even many longtime Kyl supporters who otherwise expect him to run for re-election now believe retirement is a real possibility.
Should that be Kyl’s choice, the favorites to replace him as Whip in 2013 are Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), with Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.) also viewed as a contender.
Republican sources “on and off Capitol Hill say that Cornyn, who served as Conference vice chairman before taking over the NRSC, could have the edge over Alexander if both were to run for Whip.”
That advantage could come from the support of Senators whom Cornyn helped elect in 2010 and those he would presumably aid in 2012. Either way, the Texan is expected to land in leadership in some capacity in 2013.
Republicans based in Washington, D.C., tend to believe that Kyl will run for re-election, particularly because he could become Majority Whip in 2013. But Republicans in Arizona, including Kyl supporters, are now less certain.