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Sessions Elected NRCC Chair; Cantor Becomes Whip

By Ben Pershing and Paul Kane

Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas) was elected today to chair the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 111th Congress, after current Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) unexpectedly dropped his bid for a second term at the campaign arm.

"I am honored to be elected chairman of the [NRCC], and I thank my colleagues for their support as I begin working immediately to win back a Republican majority," Sessions said. "As a member of a unified Republican leadership team, I look forward to working with [Minority] Leader [John] Boehner and our entire Republican Conference to translate our coordinated, principled efforts into electoral success."

Cole had been running to stay on as chairman even though he has lost more than 20 GOP seats over the last two years, and despite the fact that he has had a tense relationship with Boehner, who was reelected to his post this morning. Boehner had backed Sessions in the NRCC contest, and Cole likely dropped out because he saw that he wouldn't win today's vote, according to GOP sources.

UPDATE 1:35 p.m. ET: In other GOP leadership moves, Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.) was elevated to minority whip on a unanimous, uncontested vote, and similarly unopposed Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) was elevated to Republican Conference chairman, the No. 3 post.

Cantor and Pence succeed Reps. Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Adam Putnam (Fla.), respectively, both of whom stepped down from their posts to clear the way for new blood.

Rep. Thad McCotter (Mich.) defeated Rep. Michael Burgess (Texas), retaining his post as policy committee chairman. And Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) was elected vice-chair of the conference.

Several of these moves signaled the increased strength of Boehner in the conference, as Pence, Sessions and McMorris Rodgers all ran for those positions with Boehner's blessing.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) was re-elected into the position of conference secretary, the lowest ranking post on the leadership ladder.

Only Boehner, McCotter and Carter will hold the same positions in the 111th Congress as they currently occupy.

By Ben Pershing  |  November 19, 2008; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , GOP Leaders , House  
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It is time to get rid of the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: hclark1 | November 19, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

hclark: I thought you were a "Democrat for John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008."

What you are, like them, is a loser.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 19, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see that the Republicans are moving even farther to the right in an effort to regain their majority. Nice strategery.

p.s. hclark1, weren't you the one who posted "Democrats for McCain/Palin '08" ad nauseum on every comment section of this site for several months preceeding the election? I am shocked....Shocked, I say, to see that you are actually a Republican.

Posted by: mhhaggard | November 19, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

response to: (hclark1 | November 19, 2008 1:53 PM)

No, it's time for you to STFU. Understand?

Posted by: con_crusher | November 19, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Sessions is smart and hard-working, but doesn't believe in compromise or centrist politics. They seem to have chosen their strategy for 2010, and it's pedal-to-the-metal in the right-hand lane.

Posted by: cleonard1 | November 19, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh surprise, surprise, surprise! After all his claims to the contrary, hclark1 turns out to be a Republican, after all. Now I'm embarassed. I hoped all along that he was telling the truth... that he was just an errant Democrat who for some reason didn't like Obama.

Now I find he's another example of those dishonest and parochial elements my own party must somehow shed if we're serious about our own stated values. You remember what those were, before the Bush Neocon regime? Limited government, rule of law, fiscal responsibility, individual freedom of religion, conscience and expression. Our positions on many things weren't even controversial in the past... it went without saying that the American government doesn't torture people, or spy on American citizens without warrant or probable cause. Or rig elections. Or take people prisoner during a war, in and around countries we invaded, but claim they are nevertheless not prisoners of war.

I voted for Senator Obama, in large measure, because OUR party's national leaders failed the nation and failed miserably to abide by the traditional values the GOP claims to stand for. If the President-Elect does NOTHING MORE than, as he promised, to close Guantanamo, and END ALL USE of TORTURE by American officials, he will have completely vindicated my vote for him... and I am hopeful that he WILL do even more to restore the United States to its place of honor among the nations.

As for hclark1, I wish he'd go back to at least CLAIMING to be a Democrat...

Posted by: Iconoblaster | November 20, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid mhhaggard and cleonard1 may be right... Sessions' ascension sure does make it look like Republican officials in Congress don't fully appreciate what just happened.

It might be otherwise; we'll all see. The simplistic "left-right" political model never adequately described the full range of political views that appear in either major party, much less across the entire American political panorama... Greens and Libertarians, Progressives and, well, those folks on the various fringes.

"Left vs Right" doesn't begin to explain the various controversies WITHIN the Republican Party... libertarian values vs statist assertions of authority, social conservatives vs strict constructionists (on certain points), evangelical one-issue anti-abortionists vs pragmatists and fiscal conservatives. The lines cross at various points, and allies on one issue are adversaries as to another. So we'll have to wait and see what the GOP brass is thinking... it should become apparent as we see how the GOP Congressional minority deals with President Obama's incoming government, and its agenda, but certainly we'll know before the 2010 elections what its going to be.

Posted by: Iconoblaster | November 20, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

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