(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced Tuesday that he is leaving his leadership post among Republicans in the senate.
Alexander will step down in January as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference – the third ranking Republican in the Senate. He said he does plan to run for reelection to the Senate in 2014, but will not seek another leadership post.
A former presidential candidate and governor from Tennessee, Alexander has at times broken with the rest of the Republican leadership. He endorsed a proposal from the bipartisan “gang of six” for instance, which would have raised taxes as well as cut spending.
But Tuesday Alexander argued that while he is leaving his leadership post, he is not leaving his party, referring to himself as a very “Republican Republican.”
Alexander argued against those that say the Senate is now more fractious and divisive than it has been in the past. He said that those who say that have no sense of American political history.
Alexander’s exit from the Republican leadership opens up a few slots for new blood in the leadership.
Sen. John Thune, R-SD., announced, almost immediately, that he will run for Alexander’s post.
Thune currently has the 4th post as Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
Shortly after, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., announced that he will run to replace Thune’s position as Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, should Thune move up as expected into the #3 spot.
It is also possible that a Tea Party Republican allied with South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint could seek a leadership position, potentially the fourth-ranking Republican Policy Committee chairmanship.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio