As soon as we’re finished with the national elections next week, we as conservatives must assert ourselves over the congressional leadership elections. Even if we win the political elections on November 6, we must win the policy elections in Congress. There will be a number of important races to focus on over the next few weeks, including committee assignments, committee chairmanships, and the race for RSC Chairman. For now, I’d like to focus on 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 (to become Finance Committee Chair), 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 the 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 the 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.
Today, Politico is reporting that the establishment fix is already in for McMorris-Rodgers:
Key power-players in the House Republican Conference are lining up behind Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for House Republican Conference chair, a spot that would cement her place as the party’s most visible woman.
Just a few weeks before her race against Georgia Rep. Tom Price, there’s no doubt where establishment is lining up in the battle for the No. 4 spot in leadership.
She has snapped up the endorsement of seven top committee chairmen — many of them are helping her whip for support. As is South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott, an elected House leader. So are members of Speaker John Boehner’s inner circle.
Remember that leadership elections – even the lower profile positions – are important because all members of leadership get a permanent seat on the Steering Committee. As we noted last month, we will need a majority on that committee in order to assign conservatives to the important policy committees. That’s why it’s important we push for Virginia Foxx to be the next Conference Secretary, instead of Jeff Denham or Greg Harper.
The question is real simple: will GOP leaders allow us even one moderate-conservative at the leadership table?