Thursday, January 12, 2006

House GOP Majority Leader's Position Still Up For Grabs

Although there are only two officially announced candidates to succeed Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader, Roy Blunt (MO) and John Boehner (OH), neither candidate is garnering close to the 116 votes it will take to win the position. According to a running tally reported by the Hill, Blunt is leading Boehner 71-37, leaving him 35 votes short of a majority. That is leading to speculation that a majority of House GOP members prefer someone either than these two.

House GOP members have every reason to be skeptical of Blunt and Boehner. Both have Abramoff-like problems hiding in their closets. Many of their Republican colleagues are no doubt worried that either of them could easily become plagued by ethics problems just like DeLay, and House Republicans can ill afford any more scandal-plagued leaders in this election year.

Although Indiana's Mike Pence is a favorite of many conservative-reform minded Republicans to succeed DeLay, he has so far been disinclined to make the move. It looks like another conservative favorite, John Shadegg (AZ), may be about to enter the fray. If he succeeds as the outsider choice, Pence may begin regretting his decision to stay out of the race. Pence has not pledged to support anyone else at this point.

As for Indiana's other Republican members, Dan Burton has pledged to support Blunt, while Steve Buyer is pledging his support to Boehner. Chris Chocola, John Hostettler, Mark Souder and Mike Sodrel all remain uncommitted.

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