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Alexander Defeats Burr in GOP Leadership Election; Kyl Elected Whip

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) this morning bested Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), 31-16, in the race for the chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference, the No. 3 slot in the GOP hierarchy. Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) was elected Minority Whip, the position being vacated by retiring Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.), on an uncontested ballot. Kyl is the current chairman of the GOP Conference.

Alexander, who lost by one vote to Lott last year in the contest for Minority Whip, held off a spirited challenge from Burr. The North Carolinian tapped support from the freshman class and the Conference’s conservative wing, while Alexander built out from his base among committee ranking members and old bulls. Sen. Bob Bennett (Utah), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (Ky.) closest ally, was a prominent supporter of Alexander.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Burr’s most prominent supporter, was on the presidential campaign trail and did not vote.

Alexander was nominated by Sens. Gordon Smith (Ore.) and Mike Crapo (Idaho), while Burr was nominated by Sens. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.).

Kyl and Alexander will assume their new roles on Jan. 1.