In recent weeks, we’ve been shedding light on the banal politics of insider positions within Congress. Last week we focused on our project to place conservatives on vital domestic policy committees. This week we’d like to focus on a leadership race that is brewing and will culminate after the November elections. That is the race for Conference Chairman – the 4th ranking position in the Republican leadership hierarchy.
Unfortunately, the top three slots are locked up. It appears that nobody is willing to challenge Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and Majority Whip McCarthy for their respective positions. However, with Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX) vacating the position of Conference Chairman next term, there is an important opportunity for the conservative movement to demand a seat at the table.
Traditionally, the #4 spot was the one position that the GOP moderates were willing to cede to conservatives. The past two chairmen – Jeb Hensarling and Mike Pence – have been former RSC chairmen. Well, there is another former RSC chairman vying to replace Hensarling – Dr. Tom Price (Georgia). However, he is being challenged by Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, the current vice chairman of the conference.
Here’s the deal: if McMorris-Rodgers is allowed to move up to conference chair, we will not have a single conservative voice at the leadership table. She scores an average 62% conservative rating and a -19 on our Madison Performance Index. That is exactly in line with Kevin McCarthy (62%), and only slightly better than Eric Cantor (58%). She is cut from the same cloth as the others and will never provide an alternative conservative perspective to the ‘go along to get along’ echo chamber. She has worked hand in glove with Cantor and McCarthy on all the budget capitulations.
Tom Price, on the other hand, has some independent conservative credentials. He scores an 81.5% on our index. To be clear, he is far from perfect, and actually a bit disappointing for a former RSC chair; nonetheless, he is head and shoulders above McMorris-Rodgers. Price is the current chairman of the GOP Policy Committee, regarded as the #6 position.
The question is real simple: will GOP leaders allow us even one moderate-conservative at the leadership table?
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