[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/10/art.thune1110.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Thune, foreground, is Senate Republican Policy Committee."]
Washington (CNN) - He walks through Washington's Reagan National Airport, arriving as he does nearly every Monday from a weekend home in South Dakota. He makes his way unnoticed.
But John Thune's anonymity may not last forever.
He is a Republican on the rise: a freshman senator who is already a member of the GOP leadership.
As head of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, Thune runs the weekly strategy session where all Senate Republicans try to find consensus on the best way to challenge President Obama and the Democratic majority.
"It's probably the most candid assessment that we have in a given week," Thune said, riding the subway to the Tuesday lunch.
With just 40 Republicans in the Senate now, Thune insists that there is still a diversity of GOP views - but one that he argues must be expanded.