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Cornyn had previously served as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Thune had reportedly been considering a challenge to Cornyn for the whip spot.

Prior to serving as Conference chairman, Thune served as vice chairman of the Conference and also was chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. 

Meanwhile, the race to become the next chairman of the NRSC has begun to heat up. Sen. Jerry MoranJerry MoranOvernight Tech: Tech listens for clues at Sessions hearing | EU weighs expanding privacy rule | Senators blast Backpage execs Senate rejects Paul's balanced budget Republicans add three to Banking Committee MORE (R-Kan.) is running for the job and Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanGOP governors defend Medicaid expansion Senators introduce dueling miners bills Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Ohio) is also considering a bid.