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Senators Lining Up to Support Johnson’s Leadership Hopes

Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) is lining up the support of conservatives and 2010 freshmen in his bid to become the next Senate Republican Conference vice chairman.

As Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) mulls a bid for the No. 5 post in GOP leadership, Johnson today secured the GOP support of Senate Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (S.C.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.). Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) announced his backing of Johnson on Wednesday.

Graham posted his endorsement on Twitter. “Proud to support @SenRonJohnson for Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference. Ron will be a great addition to our leadership team,” Graham tweeted.

Like Johnson, Ayotte was elected last year with substantial tea party support. She also has been mentioned as a potential leadership candidate, but her decision to endorse Johnson for Conference vice chairman would appear to eliminate any immediate move into leadership on her part.

“As a proven job creator, Ron will provide effective leadership as Republicans work to get America’s economy moving. He embodies the spirit of the ‘citizen legislator,’ and his background will bring a fresh skill set to our leadership team,” Ayotte said in a statement.

Coburn and DeMint, who both won a second term in 2010, are among the more conservative members of the Republican Conference.

Blunt, a Congressional veteran with several years of service in House leadership under his belt, could be positioned to earn the support of establishment Republicans and moderates in any head-to-head campaign for Conference vice chairman against Johnson. Blunt, a former House Majority Whip, is currently a member of Minority Whip Jon Kyl’s (Ariz.) whip team.

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