Thune Could Replace Ensign on GOP Policy Committee

Sen. John Thune has pretty much locked up the votes to replace Ensign as the No. 4 GOP leader.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

We're hearing that South Dakota Sen. John Thune has locked up support to replace Sen. John Ensign as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. The opening came when Ensign admitted to an affair with an ex-aide and could clear the way for Thune, talked about last year as a vice presidential nominee, to run against President Obama in 2012.

Tall, somewhat quiet, and Western handsome, Thune is already considered a dragon-slayer, having taken out former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004 and beating back a base closing in his state during the Bush administration. Should he nail the policy job as expected, he'll be able to dream up new policies for a party starved for fresh ideas and faces. And if that works out, then look for him to make trips to primary and caucus states, ostensibly just to talk about GOP policies and platform but also to test the waters for a 2012 bid.

Whispers has written about him in the past, focusing on his bid to stop the base closing and once on his unique fashion trait of wearing his trademark cowboy boots with cuffed pants.

Conservatives tell us they like him and his able staff, and that should help the rest of the GOP leadership as they craft a path to trim Obama's sails. And we've been assured that he's as clean cut as they come.

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