Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ future in the House got brighter Monday morning when GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney named her as his House liaison, boosting her likely bid for the GOP Conference chairmanship in the next Congress, Republican officials said.
The Washington lawmaker, who is the House GOP Conference vice chairwoman and the highest-ranking elected woman in her party, will serve as Romney’s messenger to House Republicans as well as his eyes and ears in the House.
“It is a coordinating role to help ensure campaign updates are provided to House Members, but to also inform the campaign about what is going on in the House,” a Romney campaign spokeswoman said.
The announcement, however, was met by some sniping from the right and happened on a day when some conservatives were grousing about Romney’s selection of former Utah Gov. and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to head his presidential transition team.
“Mike Leavitt does not sound like the type of guy who will look Mitch McConnell in the eye in 2013 and demand, on behalf of President Romney, full and unconditional repeal of Obamacare,” RedState.com co-founder Erick Erickson wrote.
The McMorris Rodgers decision was an “odd” pick to some because Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah) “has already been a de facto liaison to the Romney camp — and conservatives have been quite comfortable with that,” a senior GOP aide said. “It’ll help confirm in conservatives’ minds that the Romney operation will favor a leadership style of thinking and operating.”
Still, McMorris Rodgers is solidly conservative in her policy positions, with a 92 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, but she adopts a moderate tone in her rhetoric.
McMorris Rodgers joins Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt (Mo.), Romney’s point man in the other chamber, who led his endorsement whip team during the presidential primary campaign.
J.T. Jezierski, Romney’s top staffer for legislative affairs, will interface with the two lawmakers on behalf of the campaign.
Rep. Tim Griffin, who worked with Jezierski and Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades at the Republican National Committee in the late 1990s, praised
McMorris Rodgers for having the respect and credibility needed for the job.
“Particularly in the last few months, after the convention, you just want to make sure that everybody’s singing off the same sheet of music,” the Arkansas Republican said.
Regarding her role conveying what’s happening in the House to the campaign, Griffin said, “You gotta have someone who can take the disparate voices of a Conference — we certainly have disparate voices on certain issues — and be able to synthesize that and communicate what people are feeling.”