Rep. Greg Walden is taking steps toward a run for chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The Oregon lawmaker told Roll Call that he has reached out to leadership and rank-and-file Members to gauge support and signal that he’s interested in the job. The response has been supportive and encouraging, Walden said in an interview.
“I certainly would be interested in doing that if the Conference decides that I’d be the one to do it,” he said.
While Walden presumes nothing, well-placed GOP sources said the job is essentially his if he wants it. Having served as deputy chairman at the NRCC for the past two cycles under Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas), his tenure drew nothing but praise from several Republicans interviewed.
“He definitely has staff support, Member support and leadership support,” one House Republican aide said. “Basically, it’s his to refuse.”
Walden need look no further than the current chairman for support. In a brief interview, Sessions said Walden has “been exceptional for four years.” He continued: “If he chooses to, I think he would make a great chairman of the NRCC.”
Now in his seventh term, the 55-year-old Walden said he will remain focused until November on keeping, or even expanding, the GOP majority.
But with the elections just three months away, Walden said he felt he needed to communicate to his colleagues — who will vote on leadership positions after the elections — what his intentions are for the 2014 cycle.
“Given the work that Chairman Sessions has done, there is strong Conference support for continuing in the framework that he created over there — the very Member- driven organization,” Walden said. “Having been his deputy for three and a half years, the concept of a bridge to kind of carry on and continue the same concept for a cycle or two makes sense.”
Things aren’t as clear on the other side of the aisle, though sources said the choice to serve another term as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will likely be Rep. Steve Israel’s (N.Y.) to make.
“Caucus members were pleased with how quickly Israel got the DCCC up off the mat after 2010, and there’s a general sense if he wanted to do it again, it would be an option for him,” one Democratic Capitol Hill aide said. “Especially if Democrats get within range of taking the majority next time around.”
A Democratic strategist agreed but noted that several wild-card factors could affect the situation. Should Democrats lose seats in November, the Caucus may push for new DCCC leadership. And if Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) opts to resign instead of serving another term in the minority, someone new would be appointing the chairman. (In the House Democratic Caucus, the campaign committee chairmanship is not an elected position.)
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.