This is a competition that has obviously been going on for a while. It actually is one of the reasons Lott may have survived to this point. Over the last 6 months, he really stepped up his game in response to a potential Nickles challenge and solidified his relationship with other Senate Republicans. He had members into his office constantly, and did a pretty good job on the homeland security fight. That’s why Nickles had been dissuaded from making a challenge—until the Thurmond gaffe. Also, the rap on Nickles is that he wasn’t a great whip, so that may be a drag on his majority-leadership ambitions. One, perhaps at this point ideal, scenario: Lott steps aside, and endorses McConnell, ensuring that one of his allies gets the job, in exchange for some chairmanship, or something, to cushion the blow.