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Shadegg Seeking GOP Policy Post

Though the chairmanship of the House Republican Policy Committee may or may not be up for grabs in the next Congress, Arizona Rep. John Shadegg (R) has already launched an aggressive campaign for the post if it does come open.

The fate of the Policy Committee gavel depends on what happens to the Homeland Security Committee, since Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) currently chairs both panels. Cox could choose, or be asked by his fellow leaders, to surrender the Policy Committee post if he remains as chairman of Homeland Security after its future status and jurisdiction are determined in January.

Cox said Wednesday that he has no current plans to leave the Policy Committee, a leadership group that helps coordinate policy issues.

“I am running for re-election as chairman of the Policy Committee,” Cox said. “I have commitments from the vast majority of the Conference [for the post]. … The only circumstance under which I would step down as chairman of the Policy Committee is if I were to become chairman of a permanent standing committee on Homeland Security.”

Under GOP Conference rules, Cox could not simultaneously serve in the elected leadership and chair a standing committee. But if Homeland Security is made a permanent select panel, as the Intelligence Committee is, then the rules would not prevent Cox from keeping both posts.

In the meantime, Shadegg is soliciting support for a run at the Policy gavel if Cox does step down. He has put in calls to every House GOP lawmaker about his desire for the job, and he spoke to several in person before the chamber adjourned.

“I am definitely interested in the post,” Shadegg said. “I’ve had people talk to me and say, ‘Hey John, this would be a good fit.’ … I think I’m perceived as kind of a policy wonk within the Conference.”

Shadegg said he made a specific effort before adjournment to reach out to moderates and to discuss his candidacy. As a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the Arizonan already has a good base of support among House GOP conservatives.

Beyond Shadegg, it is unclear whether any other Members will choose to make a run for the Policy post if Cox steps down.

It is possible that one of the current Policy subcommittee chairmen could look to move up the ladder. But none of the six who are running for re-election to the House has publicly expressed an interest in doing so.

One prominent Shadegg supporter, Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas), called Shadegg a “hard worker” and predicted that he could win the Policy job easily, regardless of whether any other candidates jump into the race.

Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the current chairman of the elected leadership, had been seen as a potential candidate for the Policy post, but he has now ruled out a bid.

“He’s excited about his current role in leadership and about being liaison in a busy second Bush administration,” said Portman spokesman Kyle Downey.

One factor that could prevent more Members from jumping into the Policy race is the possibility that the committee will have its responsibilities and budget reduced in the near future.

While other leadership offices have their budgets set in the legislative branch appropriations bill, Policy’s funding is allocated at the discretion of Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Echoing a view held by some other lawmakers, Downey said Portman “is not sure if it makes sense to have a Policy Committee anymore.”

Regardless of whether Cox ultimately keeps the Policy post, the Californian will likely be re-elected to it during organizational meetings in November, since the Homeland panel’s final status won’t be codified until January.

Once the committee’s structure is determined, Cox could then step down and he would be replaced in a leadership special election.

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