The Number Two Senate Republican, Don Nickles of Oklahoma, will not challenge Senate GOP Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi for his job in the next Congress.
Nickles' decision apparently clears the way for Lott to retain the leadership job he has held since 1996.
GOP aides said they were unaware of any other senator preparing to challenge Lott, though fellow Republican Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee also had been quietly testing the waters.
Lott, 61, has sometimes been seen by conservatives as too willing to cut deals with Democrats. Lott was elected to the Senate in 1988.