Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas is angling for a key leadership role in the Republican Party, a move that could catapult the politician from Plainville into the national spotlight.
The first-term senator is campaigning for the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP campaign arm tasked with electing Republicans to the upper chamber of Congress.
The high-profile, high-pressure gig would be a big step up for Moran and would put him at the forefront of Republican efforts to rebound from disappointing losses in last week's election.
Moran told reporters with several Capitol Hill newspapers that he's been lobbying hard for the job in face-to-face meetings with his colleagues. He believes he has the votes to win.
"I have talked to all of my colleagues present and future and have had a sufficient number of commitments that I would be elected to chair the NRSC," Moran said in a telephone interview with The Hill. He declined to comment for this article.
As of Tuesday, the scuttlebutt was that the Republican leadership favored Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, for the post. Portman has closer ties to the Republican establishment than Moran and a bigger reputation on the national stage. But a Republican aide close to Portman said he has decided not to run, clearing the way for Moran.
A secret-ballot vote by the Senate Republican Conference is expected today. So far, Moran is the only senator openly running for the post.
"He's been an extraordinary cautious and state-oriented legislator, and this is a real stepping onto the national stage," said Burdett Loomis, professor of political science at the University of Kansas. "... I think he looked around at 45 other senators and said, 'Why not me?' And that's the right first question to ask, I think."