(CNN) — Senate GOP Whip John Thune announced Monday that he is running for Republican leader, setting up a contested battle in the first major shakeup at the top of the Senate GOP hierarchy in nearly two decades.

Thune, speaking to Keloland News in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said that he wants to succeed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has held the post since 2007 and announced last week that he would step aside at the end of the year from his perch atop the conference.

“I hope to be,” Thune said Monday when asked if he wants to be Republican leader. “And I’m going to do everything I can to convince my colleagues. They’re the voters. They’re the ones who will ultimately make the decision.”

Thune will face at least one other Republican: John Cornyn of Texas, a former whip and Senate GOP campaign chairman who announced his bid last week. Others could jump into the race as well: former President Donald Trump has urged Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to seek the position, and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who lost to McConnell in a challenge to his position after the 2022 midterms, has not ruled out a bid as well.

But Daines has not said if he’s interested in the position. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the current No. 3 Senate Republican, is instead choosing to run for the GOP whip position, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.

The vote won’t be held until after the November elections, and it will be conducted by secret ballot.

In speaking to a reporter on Monday, Thune said he would help Republicans be a “check and balance” against the Democratic agenda.

(Copyright (c) 2024 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox