Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, locked in a recount against Democrat Al Franken, is now he's taking himself out of the running for head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
This clears the way for Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to take over as NRSC chairman for the 2010 election cycle. Cornyn's biggest target? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is already girding for a tough election in his home state of Nevada.
Coleman was already facing a tough internal vote of the Senate Republican Conference in his NRSC chairmanship bid, and the ongoing recount in Minnesota had clearly become a distraction in Coleman's bid for a GOP leadership slot.
"Senator Coleman has chosen to step back in order to give his undivided attention to the recount effort," said Coleman spokesman LeRoy Coleman [not related to the senator]. "However he puts his full support behind Sen. John Cornyn."
Cornyn still has a tough task in 2010, but he'll be operating in a more historically friendly political environment — the party in control of the White House usually loses seats in mid term elections.
“Norm is one of the hardest working and well-liked members of the Republican Conference," Cornyn said." I sincerely appreciate his support. He has been a tireless advocate for his constituents in Minnesota and I will continue to do whatever I can to help ensure his return to the Senate next year.”
The Coleman-Cornyn race for NRSC was the only real leadership race still unresolved in the Senate. Now the only looming personnel question for Senate Republicans as they convene next week is whether to expel Ted Stevens from the Republican conference. That secret GOP vote is now in question because the recount in Ted Stevens re-election effort in Alaska is still under way.