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Alaska's Murkowski moves up in Senate GOP leadership

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is moving into the Senate GOP's inner circle.

Her Senate Republican colleagues voted today to make her vice chairman of the Republican Conference. In that role, she'll be in charge of spreading the Republican message, Murkowski said.

"It's not just an issue of pushing back, for instance, on a health care plan that doesn’t deliver what the president is seeking," Murkowski said during a press conference announcing the election results. "We need to, as Republicans, be able to voice, be able to express what our solutions, what our plans, what our proposals are and how they truly fit in with the agenda, whether it is from Alaska to Maine or parts in between."

Murkowski's move comes at a low moment for Republicans: in the wake of two sex scandals, including one that, indirectly, led to her ascent into leadership ranks. The position opened up after Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, disclosed this month that he had an affair with an aide. He resigned, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., sought his place as the policy committee chairman. Murkowski landed Thune's old job as the vice chairman.

Murkowski, the only woman in GOP Senate leadership, was unopposed in her race for the seat, which is chosen by her fellow Republican senators. She had been serving in an informal advisory role to the leadership team as one of three "counsels" appointed by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. the Senate Republican leader.

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