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The bloodletting in House GOP leadership began quickly after their second straight drubbing at the polls, but House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) seemed likely to survive the carnage.
Boehner promised to rebuild the party and put an end to the losing as he announced his bid to keep his job. The decision by Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) to seek the job of Whip held by Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.), instead of making a run for the top job, removed Boehners biggest threat.
Blunt appeared to be on his way out, although his office refused to confirm he had agreed to step down, while Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnams (Fla.) unexpected decision to pre-emptively step aside created a scramble for his post.
Republicans said Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas), former RSC Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.) were campaigning for the third-ranking House GOP slot, with Rep. Mike Rogers (Mich.) among several others mentioned as possible candidates.
Either Hensarling or Pence would instantly be the most conservative Member of leadership and clearly nudge, if not shove, the Conference significantly to the right. One GOP aide said Boehner had agreed to help clear the field for Pence, but Boehners office did not comment by press time.
There was plenty of action for other posts as well.
Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) faces off against at least one challenger Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas) in his bid to secure a second term as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Cole had butted heads with Boehner and came under significant criticism for the NRCCs inability to compete with Democrats in fundraising and for the parties loss of three special elections.
Rep. Michael Burgess (Texas) also announced he would take on Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.).
Ive sat on the sidelines as vice chair the last two years, Burgess said, adding that he regrets not running for the post two years ago. I just thought I had something to offer and it was up or out for me.
For his part, McCotter penned an opinion piece Wednesday, saying his party had hit rock bottom and deserved to lose.
Possessed of no vision, no principle, no purpose, and no appeal, we deserved our fate, McCotter wrote in the American Spectator.
Dead is the self-indulgent imbecility of re-branding as if the Republican Party was a corporate product to be repackaged, not a transformational political movement to be led, McCotter said. Despite what the media will tell you, and what so-called conservative leaders will discuss ad nauseam during secret meetings, this situation is not a crisis. It is an opportunity.
Nonetheless, McCotter praised Boehner in an interview and said the defeat at the polls would have been much worse without Boehners fundraising and focus.
Rock bottom could have been a lot deeper without John Boehner, McCotter said, adding that he thought the Members would now be ready to follow Boehner on a bolder reform course than in the past.
Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), meanwhile, announced he was seeking the ranking membership of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee instead of seeking a leadership post.