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(WASHINGTON) — Sen. John Barrasso announced Tuesday that he’s seeking the No. 2 Senate GOP leadership position, bucking long-held expectations that he’d vie for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top spot.

The Wyoming senator said he believes serving as the Republican Party’s whip will be the right fit for the GOP.

“I have had time to reflect on how I might best serve the Republican Conference and our party,” he said in a statement. “After a lot of thought I will ask my colleagues for their support and help to work for them as Assistant Republican Leader.”

Barrasso currently serves as the Republican Conference chair, making him the third-ranking Senate Republican. If elected Minority Whip, he will become the No. 2 Republican, replacing current Whip John Thune, who is aiming to be the party leader.

“Well, I hope to be, and I’m going to do everything I can to convince my colleagues,” Thune told Keloland News Monday. “They’re the voters. They’re the ones who ultimately make the decision.”

Last week, McConnell announced that he will step down as the Senate Republican leader in November after serving almost two decades in the role. He noted that he’ll finish his term as senator, which ends in 2027.

Barrasso’s decision to seek the No. 2 position is a bit of an early shake-up to this race, which was expected to be a face-off between Barrasso, Thune and Sen. John Cornyn — also known as the “three Johns.” Barrasso was largely seen as the most conservative and Trump-aligned of the three.

While campaigning in Arizona with Senate hopeful Kari Lake last week, Barrasso didn’t rule out running for Republican leader when asked directly if he would be seeking McConnell’s position.

“That election doesn’t occur until later in November. To me, the key election is the one earlier in November — the election for president in the United States and Senate seats all around the country, and that’s why I’m here,” he said. “That’s the election I’m concerned about. I want to do everything I can to make sure that Donald Trump is elected president of the United States again, and Kari Lake is part of a majority … for Republicans in the United States Senate.”

Down-ballot leadership races are just now being fleshed out, as those announcing their intent to to run for new positions leave new holes in the leadership structure as they look to move up the chain. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday he’ll try to nab Barrasso’s current spot.

ABC News’ Libby Cathey and Brittany Gaddy contributed to this report.

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