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Blunt Won’t Challenge Boehner for Top GOP Job

Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is running for re-election to his House seat and will not challenge Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for the top leadership job when — as Blunt predicts — Republicans win a majority in 2008.

“No retirement,” Blunt said during a lunch with reporters Tuesday.

“I think our team has been good, I believe our Whip team has done a great job,” he said, quipping, “I’m pretty sure any on-the-record comment you could get from our Members would verify that.”

When asked if he also intended to run for re-election to Minority Whip, he said “I expect to be in the majority in the next Congress.” Blunt then clarified that he had no intention of rocking the natural order of leadership elevation, meaning that if the GOP were to win a majority, Boehner would run for Speaker and Blunt would run for Majority Leader.

Blunt credited Boehner for his management of the leadership team. “Mr. Boehner’s done a good job of bringing the leadership together and keeping the leadership together,” he said. “We meet every day now for a few minutes, or at least” House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.), Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Boehner “and I do, so it’s very time-efficient and also good for our staff.”

Blunt added that the various leaders are settling into their roles, and he said he believes the group to be more unified than it has been in the past.

“I’m very comfortable with all of it, the floor strategy, the motions to recommit, getting information to our Members — all part of what we do — and I think our leadership is more unified than it has been in a long time in terms of just staying together, sharing the same information, staying focused on the same thing, knowing who’s doing what and when, and that’s been good for us,” he said. “I think our Members have held together in an extraordinary way, and the leaders share some credit for that.”

Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for Boehner, said Blunt is an “integral” part of the leadership team and that Boehner is “grateful for all his hard work in the fight to earn back the majority.”

While Blunt may not challenge Boehner, Cantor and Putnam likely will remain wild cards as potential contenders for any leadership post in the next Congress until they say otherwise. At least one member of leadership, Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), prompted some mild chafing recently after reports surfaced that he suggested to a forum of conservative bloggers at the think tank Heritage Foundation — without naming them directly — that he and Boehner were doing more to advance Republican principles than Blunt and Putnam were.

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