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Dole Edges Coleman for NRSC Chairmanship

By the narrowest of margins, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) won the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee today, edging out Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.) on a 28-27 vote.

In a secret ballot held at roughly 10:30 a.m. in the Old Senate Chamber, Dole prevailed with a campaign that focused on her political celebrity status and ability to be a big draw on the fundraising circuit for Senate candidates in the 2006 cycle. Both Dole’s and Coleman’s supporters claimed to have the edge heading into the vote, but privately each side acknowledged that it would be a very close election.

Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.), who was whipping votes for Dole, said the 28-27 outcome was “within a vote or two” of what he thought it would be.

All other GOP leaders were re-elected to their positions by acclimation.

The Republican Conference is also expected to approve a measure that will give Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) the power to make appointments to the chamber’s top committees when openings come up, doing away with the GOP’s long-held position of allowing seniority to determine who receives committee assignments.

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