Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is backing the candidacy of Tennessee Republican Bill Frist to take over as majority leader after Trent Lott stepped down under fire for a racially charged statement he made at a birthday bash for South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond.
Sessions said Lott, a Mississippi Republican made the "right decision" to stay in the Senate but resign as Republican leader.
Had Lott abandoned his seat entirely, Mississippi's Democratic governor probably would have appointed a Democrat, weakening the GOP's narrow grip on power.
Sessions and Alabama's other Republican senator, Richard Shelby, had remained largely quiet on Lott's fate this week as the drumbeat for his ouster intensified.
There was no indication who Shelby would support in a potential contest between Frist and Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum, a more conservative and more senior member of the chamber.