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A Future NRCC Chairman: Aaron Schock?

Walden is the chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Walden is the chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s most likely a few years away, but the next race for chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee is already on the minds of many House GOP conference members.  

Each cycle, the House Republican Conference elects the NRCC chairman — different than House Democrats, whose leadership picks the party’s campaign honcho. After the 2012 elections, Greg Walden, R-Ore., ran uncontested for the position  to oversee the committee this cycle, and Republicans expect that will be the case again for the 2016 elections.  

After that, the race for his successor is wide open — and Republicans speculate about a handful of members already positioning themselves to succeed Walden eventually.  

Republicans have praised Walden’s performance as chairman, but they added the single most important quality in the next chairman will be the ability to fundraise. Party operatives are tired of seeing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee bring in more money than the NRCC nearly every month. Approximately one dozen Capitol Hill Republicans weighed in on the best — and most likely — prospects for the next NRCC chairman:  

Rep. Aaron Schock, Illinois Elected to Congress at 27, Schock was, for a while, treated as the Doogie Howser  of the House. But even at his young age, Schock has worked to establish himself as a contender for leadership someday.  

First, he took a pass on running for governor of Illinois this year. More recently, he helped raise $15 million as chairman of the NRCC’s annual fundraising dinner (a thankless gig few members actually want). Shock raised more than House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin brought in when he served as chief fundraiser for the dinner in 2013.  

Schock also sits on a $3.2 million war chest, further proving his fundraising chops.  

And finally, his youth is his attribute. As the first member of Congress born in the 1980s, the 32-year-old is still seen as an ideal messenger to reach younger voters.  

Rep. Ann Wagner, Missouri Who better to help the GOP’s image with female voters than a politically seasoned congresswoman running the NRCC? In her first term, Wagner has been clear about her goals: Repair the party’s image with female voters and increase female representation in the House Republican Conference (currently 8 percent).  

She is also one of the few House GOP members who regularly takes sides in primaries  while avoiding blowback from tea-party-aligned groups. Along with Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., Wagner has recruited, groomed, vetted, campaigned for and fundraised  for a handful of female recruits.  

She also travels the country, working with male Republicans on tone when dealing with gender-sensitive issues.  

Before her election to the House in 2012, Wagner came up through the party ranks, serving as chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party and as co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.  

Wagner’s only obvious drawback? The perception that she wants the job too much.  

“She’s not too eager. She says ‘yes’ a lot,” a Wagner source defended. “If someone asks for help, you’re going to hear ‘yes’ from Ann Wagner more than you’re going to hear ‘no.’ ”  

Rep. Steve Stivers, Ohio Stivers is a low-profile contender, but numerous Republicans who work closely with the committee portray his efforts as national finance chairman as the NRCC’s backbone.  

Republicans said that Stivers’ best attribute beyond fundraising is that while he is now in a safe seat, he knows firsthand what it is like to be a candidate in a tough race .  

Of course, Stivers might not want the job. As recently as January, he was considering  a Senate run in 2018.  

Rep. Roger Williams, Texas Like Wagner, Williams is a freshman with national political experience. He’s known as a prolific fundraising and shrewd political operator.  

A man of means, Williams is plugged in to the GOP’s extensive Texas donor base. He was a strong George W. Bush bundler, and in 2005, Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed Williams to secretary of State.  

In Congress, he’s earned early praise  for committee fundraising. He also raised more than $400,000 in his first quarter as an incumbent, even though he does not face much of a challenge back home.  

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Georgia The NRCC’s current deputy chairman , Westmoreland is frequently mentioned as a long shot contender.  

Westmoreland generously distributes money from his leadership PAC  to other members — a smart move for anyone looking to run for leadership.  

But Republicans float his name cautiously. Multiple Republican sources worried that his colorful persona (he coined the phrase “asshole factor “) could be a messaging distraction and problematic.  

This story marks the first part in a series about which members will potentially run the congressional campaign committees in future cycles.