GOP Leaders Line Up for Top Spots in New Congress
Races for House Republican leadership positions kicked off as soon as the dust settled from the midterm elections, but very few of those contests promised to kick up much dust of their own.
With the top two positions of Speaker and Majority Leader virtually locked down by Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), respectively, most of the attention has centered on the races for lower-tier positions in Republican leadership.
So far, Boehner has avoided endorsing any lawmaker’s bid, an approach that contrasts with his strategy after the 2008 elections, when he moved quickly to endorse political allies over those less inclined to fall in line with his leadership.
Leadership elections will take place Nov. 17. There’s little friction so far, but as the posts shake out there could be some infighting.
Chief Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy is the only candidate to publicly declare his bid for Majority Whip. The California Republican told Roll Call on Thursday evening he had “north of 160” commitments from current and incoming Members.
Before the midterm elections, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) signaled he was contemplating a run for the No. 3 Whip job, but so far he has not officially announced his intentions for the 112th Congress.
Sources within the House Republican Conference have predicted he will remain in his position as campaign chairman and, as of Friday evening, no one had come forward to challenge Sessions for the NRCC post. A spokeswoman said Sessions will announce his plans early next week.
When Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) announced his intention to step down as Conference chairman to explore a run for higher office, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas) quickly threw his hat into the ring. Hensarling, a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, received endorsements from rank-and-filers and from Cantor, Pence and Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), who will likely chair the Budget Committee.
But Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) also is seeking the Conference Chairwoman position, a move that could cause heartburn for GOP leaders even if her bid fails. Rep. Steve King (Iowa) was the sole Member to endorse her publicly as of Saturday, but Bachmann’s newly formed Tea Party Caucus may give her a boost.
Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) is the odds-on favorite for the Policy Committee chairmanship, according to several GOP sources. He has gathered endorsements from Conference Secretary John Carter (Texas) and Ryan as well as several rank-and-file lawmakers.
Rep. Connie Mack IV (Fla.) also is running for the post, but Republican sources said Mack has an uphill battle against Price.
Price began exploring a run this summer after Policy Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) proposed eliminating the position to cut costs, asking colleagues if he could count on their support. McCotter announced earlier this year he would not seek another term as Policy chairman.
Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (Wash.) will seek another term in her position. Both she and Carter are running unopposed.