Roger Wicker Picked to Helm NRSC

Republicans pick the Mississippi senator over Dean Heller to run 2016 campaign efforts.

Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi has been elected by his colleagues to run the National Republican Senatorial Committee this cycle.

Wicker defeated Nevada Sen. Dean Heller in a secret-ballot contest Thursday morning.

Wicker presented himself to his conference as a workhorse who pushed donors tirelessly for funds in the 2014 cycle and helped to protect Sen. Thad Cochran from a nearly lethal primary challenge in Mississippi.

Wicker faces a difficult task in 2016, where he'll have 24 GOP seats to defend, several of which lie in blue and purple states, and few obvious possibilities to steal away Democratic seats. On top of that, the presidential race could siphon away important resources.

Still Wicker, who has a strong following on K Street and is known for his ability to work the phones, is confident. "We shift from an offensive position in 2014 to defending seats in a variety of states in 2016. I think we can do this, but it's going to take resources. It's going to involve everybody helping," he said.

Democrats, meanwhile, will have just 10 seats to defend, most of them safe.

Given those constraints, there's a very real possibility that Republicans could lose their majority after just two years. But Democrats won't get this kind of map again for a while. That's why Wicker says he wanted the job in the first place.

"If we can withstand 2016, I think we can have an effective governing majority with accomplishments in the Senate for a long time," Wicker said.