From NBC's Carrie Dann
Sen. John Cornyn says that he's ready to "hit the ground running" in his new post as the Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Cornyn, a Texas senator since 2002 and the state's former Attorney General, could be the second Texan in Republican Party elective leadership should Rep. Pete Sessions beat Rep. Tom Cole for the top spot in the NRCC. Cornyn's ascension to the post as the Senate's top elections architect comes as some Republicans worry aloud that the GOP has become increasingly limited to Southern states and that the party is losing ground in the Mountain West and the Northeast.
In his new role, Cornyn will have to oversee a coming election cycle in which Republicans could stand to weather further losses. Among GOPers whose 2010 races are shaping up as potential nailbiters are Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, and Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.
In a statement, Cornyn vowed to dive into the new job, starting by aiding his Republican colleagues who are locked in unresolved reelection races.
"This is a critical time for Republicans in the Senate and across the country, particularly as Democrats stand on the doorstep of a super-majority in the Congress," Cornyn said in the press release, warning of dire legislative consequences if Democrats are to reach the 60-vote filibuster-proof threshold in the U.S Senate.
The Texas Senator, who sits on the Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, was elected unanimously to fill the post previously held by Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who in turn is running to lead the Senate's Policy Committee. Republican Norm Coleman had previously indicated that he would run for the NRSC job but withdrew when his reelection run against Al Franken was thrown into a high-stakes recount.
Cornyn himself survived a reelection challenge from Democrat Rick Noriega, who blasted the Texas Senator during the election season on his closeness to George W. Bush and his backing of the $700 billion economic bailout plan passed in October. Cornyn's campaign manager in that race, Rob Jesmer, will serve as the Executive Director of the NRSC.
Here's the full release:
WASHINGTON--U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, made the following statement regarding his unanimous election today by the Senate Republican Conference to serve as the Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for the 2010 election cycle.
"I am honored by the confidence my Republican colleagues have placed in me to serve as the next Chairman of the NRSC. This is a critical time for Republicans in the Senate and across the country, particularly as Democrats stand on the doorstep of a super-majority in the Congress. If that is allowed to happen, the Democratic Congress will have unchecked authority to raise taxes, diminish our military's readiness, and continue Washington's unaccountable spending spree. We must have checks and balances because the American people deserve accountability from Washington now more than ever. To that end, I will continue to do whatever I can in the days ahead to help our Republican candidates emerge victorious in the outstanding Senate races.
"At the same time, I intend to hit the ground running and start laying the ground work with my colleagues for Republican victories in 2010. We must ensure our Party has the candidates and the financial resources to effectively communicate our positive vision for our country. There is simply no time to waste, and I will work as hard as possible in my capacity as NRSC Chair to help move our Party forward.
Sen. Cornyn also announced today that Rob Jesmer will serve as Executive Director of the NRSC. Jesmer, who managed Sen. Cornyn's strong re-election victory in Texas earlier this month, is a seasoned political operative with an extensive background managing and consulting in Republican races across the country. Prior to his most recent position, Jesmer served as a Regional Political Director for the Southeast Region at the Republican National Committee for the 2006 election cycle, Chief of Staff to Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL) and as National Field Director for the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2002 election cycle.
"I am very impressed with the political acumen, intelligence and work ethic that Rob displayed in managing my recent re-election victory. Those qualities, coupled with his extensive leadership experience working on campaigns across the country, will be an invaluable asset for the NRSC moving forward," Sen. Cornyn said.