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House Republicans: Who Will Replace DeLay?

Texas Rep. Tom DeLay's (R) decision Saturday to permanently step aside as House majority leader sets up at least one high-profile race that could change the face of the chamber's Republican leadership.

The majority leader contest at the moment is a two-way race, according to conversations with several knowledgeable Republicans in the the wake of the DeLay announcement. The Fix's early handicapping of the race is below. Remember, House Republicans haven't had contested leadership elections since 1998, making accurate predictions difficult.

Majority Leader

* Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.): The acting majority leader and elected majority whip, Blunt has been positioning himself for a permanent promotion since DeLay temporarily stepped down last year.  Blunt is likely to have the support of many of the more junior House Republicans as Blunt has proved helpful to them on tough votes and seeded their campaigns from his various fundraising arms.  Blunt's relationships with some of the GOP's old bulls -- including the committee chairmen -- is tenuous at best.   

* Rep. John Boehner (Ohio): Boehner has been waiting for this moment ever since he was ousted as GOP Conference Chairman in the wake of the 1998 elections.  Boehner lost that leadership race to former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts (R).  After DeLay's announcement today, Boehner wasted little time in activating his organization. He begins with a strong base in the Ohio delegation and is likely to enjoy the support of Republican moderates who had grown increasingly dissatisfied with DeLay.

Three other names are actively mentioned for the majority leader position: Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), Mike Pence (Ind.) and John Shadegg (Ariz.). Should Lewis run, he would likely rely on his chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee as well as the large California delegation as his twin bases of support. Both Pence and Shadegg would seek to unify conservatives behind their bids.

If Blunt wins the majority leader post, there will be a race to fill his vacated majority whip slot. At the moment that contest also appears to be a two-way race.

Majority Whip

* Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.): Cantor was plucked from near obscurity in late 2002 (just two years after he won the Richmond-area 7th district) by Blunt when the Missourian named him chief deputy whip.  Cantor would seem to start the whip race with an edge, but his hopes could be complicated by what happens in the majority leader's race. If Blunt wins the leader contest, it seems unlikely that the GOP Conference would vote to elevate Cantor, a move that would essentially affirm the status quo.

* Rep. Mike Rogers (Mich.): Rogers is the freshest face among the four Republicans seeking the top leadership posts. Elected in a fiercely competitive election in 2000, Rogers has a unique background that could serve him well among a Republican Conference reeling by the plea agreement of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff earlier this week. Rogers is a former FBI agent who spent much of his time with the bureau investigating public corruption cases.  Rogers was seen as a likely candidate for the National Republican Congressional Committee chairmanship next cycle but unexpectedly backed away.

Rep. Zach Wamp (Tenn.) plans to run for the whip post but is not seen as a major factor. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (Kans.) is also mentioned.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 7, 2006; 7:45 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: Insider Interview: The Union Leader's John DiStaso


One thing is for sure about the upcoming election race - anyone running against an incumbent will ramp up their negative ad campaigns against "insider" corruption allegations.
I weep for this country sometimes.

Posted by: Andy Parsons | January 11, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The poll that shows that the public blames both parties for corruption is more evidence of the press continuing to repeat Republican talking points. This is a Republican scandle involving a republican lobyist and republican members of Congress. No democrat received money directly from Abermoff. Equating donations from Indian tribes to Abermoff taints both the Indian tribes and representatives that legally received funds from them. For once can the Press stop regurgitating the Administration's talking points? Haven't you learned your lessons from the reporting on "WMDs" and the "9/11-Iraq connection"?

Posted by: Elaine Hickey | January 11, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

If I'm not mistaken, Delay was an advocate of the tough line on the softwood lumber dispute with Canada, and generally a hawk. What effect is this race likely to have on Canadian relations, if any?
Gab, aka lecentre,

Posted by: Gab, aka lecentre | January 9, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Numerous figures from our history could do a better job in Washington than the current leaders and Congressmen. I am thinking of Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Bugs Bunny. Furthermore, I would put Ebenezer Scrooge in charge of federal spending. Batman and Robin would be assigned to capture Osama bin Laden. The president's press sec. would be Sgt.Friday ("just the facts, mam, just the facts")

Posted by: bill | January 9, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse

the only problem with Mike Rogers is that he has morals and principles. These are two things that the existing republican party doesn't trust.

Posted by: ken from va | January 8, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Mike Rogers (MI) would be a strong candidate for Whip. Roger's background as a former FBI agent who has worked on public corruption cases, his strength as a political strategist - fundraiser, and his principled stand on issues over the years has made him a rising star both here in Michigan and nationally.

See local(MI) artilces about him:

Posted by: Saul Anuzis | January 8, 2006 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't matter who replaces delay, because love him or hate him(i hate him) he was one helluva leader and a cunning political operative. He is, frankly, irreplaceable. my suspicions is Pence wins the leadership and Blount remains whip.
Whoever steps in, it'll be a 2nd string pick who'll never be about to lead as effectively (for better or worse) than delay did.
Having said that, i suspect delay's arrogance will surely land him in jail and it's just a question of when.

Posted by: jay lassiter | January 8, 2006 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Some of these listed for possible leadership posts are already up to their eyeballs in "Abramoffgate". Eric Cantor signed on to one of the Indian letters to Interior and received $10,000 for it. If these guys want to clean house, they'd better search the halls for someone who might not be indicted.

Posted by: Lilly | January 8, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

dear chris,

NOW are you going to put Delays' congressional district up on your chart of seats that might change hands next election?
Com'n! don't be afraid of the hammer now that the sharks are out!

ricky from omaha

Posted by: ricky | January 8, 2006 7:54 AM | Report abuse

The whole President "Numbskull" Bush administration,which has shown itself to be inept, along with the leaders of both houses, and also, whomever is involved with any of Delay's shenanigans, should be impeached! We need to get on with looking for Bin Laden and the terror cells worldwide with those 160,000 troops worldwide instead of being mired down with our 2193 dead American fighting soldiers and even more mercenaries in Vietnam, I mean Iraq. Investigation will emphasis the lengths this crooked administration went in lying to get us into Iraq War where this adminstration, friends, and political donors and cronies are raking in billions of dollars in oil and wartime contracts off the backs of thousands of dead Americans and deliberately steering us away from the real culprits. Why? Because the 9/11 hijackers were almost all Saudi Arabians and the Bush's have very close financial dealings with Saudi Arabia. Remember that Grampa Prescott Bush made the family fortune selling goods to Nazi Germany! These crooks just insured that the Republicans lose control of both houses this year, thus paving the way for a full indepth investigation of the entire Bush administration.

Posted by: Deuces | January 8, 2006 5:21 AM | Report abuse

GOP would be wise to replace all positions

Posted by: db | January 8, 2006 2:53 AM | Report abuse

If the initial voting for majority leader deadlocks, I can see my Congressman, Jerry Lewis, as an acceptable compromise candidate. And yes, the French think he's funny, but they would never put him in their legislature.

Posted by: Larry | January 7, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

House Republian John Sweeney of New York is calling for elections for all house leadership positions... specifically calling our Speaker Dennis Hastert who is clearly implicated in the Abramoff mess.

Posted by: Andrew C. White | January 7, 2006 10:03 PM | Report abuse

House Republian John Sweeney of New York is calling for elections for all house leadership positions... specifically calling our Speaker Dennis Hastert who is clearly implicated in the Abramoff mess.

Posted by: Andrew C. White | January 7, 2006 10:01 PM | Report abuse

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