The PJ Tatler

How Two Key Conservative Groups Rank House Leadership Contenders

Conservatives who made the pilgrimage to Washington to attend this week’s Values Voter Summit rejoiced–as in literally cheered–Friday when Sen. Marco Rubio relayed Speaker John Boehner’s news that he will resign his post in October.


Soon after, The Hill described House conservatives as “warming” to heir-apparent and current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, while Politico announced that Boehner’s “resignation triggers an all-out leadership scramble.”

But just how conservative are the Republicans vying to fill the leadership vacuum? For starters, here are their most recent scorecard ratings from FRC Action (of the Family Research Council, host of the Values Voter Summit) and Heritage Action (of the Heritage Foundation).

Speaker’s Race

Two of McCarthy’s potential rivals for the top spot are House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who has said he will not run for Speaker, and tea-party favorite Jim Jordan, who leads the Freedom Caucus. Financial Services Committee Jeb Hensarling’s (R-Texas) name has also been floated.

Majority Leader’s Race

Politico names four possible contenders for House majority leader:

Georgia Rep. Tom Price is expected to run for House majority leader, according to several sources familiar with his plans. Price’s office declined to comment. Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) are also expected to vie for the No. 2 slot in GOP leadership. Texas Rep. Pete Sessions also is considering a run.


And here are their most recent rankings from the same conservative organizations:

Majority Whip’s Race and Republican Conference Chairman Race

As for other House leadership races (from Politico):

Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin is running for House majority whip, according to multiple sources. Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) will likely run for that post, as well, and his organization could give him a major advantage.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), who lost a leadership race in 2014, is eyeing the landscape, and could make a run, according to sources.

And their rankings:

Do Conservatives Have More Than a Prayer?

Since the Speaker is elected by the whole House, not merely the majority party, he (or she) must secure 218 votes. Earning that number would be no challenge if facing a united Republican conference, currently 247 members strong.


But as Boehner noted, not all Republican congressmen behave the way entrenched GOP leadership would like. The contingent of Republicans who refuse to welsh on promises they made to their constituents won’t get all they want here, but if they play it right, they could gain something. The Hill:

The Freedom Caucus does have enormous leverage: Between 40 to 50 members strong, the conservative bloc of House members essentially could veto any nominee for Speaker simply by withholding all of their votes.

Just how much leverage do these members have? That depends on how the leadership auditions go.


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