South Dakota’s John Thune climbed to the second-highest rung on the Senate Republican leadership ladder Wednesday with a promotion to majority whip.

A term limit for majority whips forced Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, out of the job. Thune ran unopposed for the position and was elected by his Senate colleagues.

According to the Senate website, whips are responsible for counting heads and rounding up party members for votes and quorum calls, and they occasionally stand in for the majority or minority leaders in their absence. The majority whip ranks behind only the majority leader among the leadership positions to which senators are elected by their colleagues.

“I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for once again trusting me with a seat at the leadership table, providing me with the opportunity and platform to give issues that are important to South Dakota the national attention they deserve and continue to build on the pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda we’ve implemented over the last two years,” Thune said in a written statement.

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Thune had served in the No. 3 Republican Senate leadership post as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference since 2012. He had also been serving as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation since 2015, but he will now have to give up that chairmanship to serve as whip.

Thune, a 57-year-old Murdo native, served in the U.S. House from 1997 to 2003 before beginning his service in the U.S. Senate in 2005. He is currently serving his third term in the Senate, having been re-elected in 2010 and 2016. 

According to Thune’s office, he is the highest-ranking Republican U.S. senator in South Dakota history. 

The man Thune beat in 2004 to gain election to the Senate, Tom Daschle, was a Democrat who was serving as Senate minority leader at the time and had previously served as majority leader.

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Contact Seth Tupper at seth.tupper@rapidcityjournal.com

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