Senator Cornyn Poised to Rise in Senate Leadership

September 21, 2011

With the retirement of Senator Jon Kyl on the horizon, Senator John Cornyn is poised to rise to the position of Senate Minority Whip.  Senator Lamar Alexander has decided to not challenge Cornyn for the position and will instead concentrate on his own re-election race.  This will place Senator Cornyn as the second ranking Republican member of the Senate.

What does a party whip do?

Both parties in the Senate elect whips. The term “whip” comes from a fox-hunting expression — “whipper-in” — referring to the member of the hunting team responsible for keeping the dogs from straying from the team during a chase. Established early in the 20th century, the development of party whips coincided with the evolution of party leaders in the Senate.

Democrat James Hamilton Lewis of Illinois became the first party whip in 1913, and the Republicans established their own whip position two years later. These assistant leaders are mainly 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.

Senator Cornyn will be the first Republican whip from the state of Texas.  He must first be elected by the Republican conference.

 


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