Feb. 6, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

In GOP Leadership Races, Women and Freshmen Step Forward

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has a spate of Members rounding up support for her in her bid to be chairwoman of the House Republican Conference next year.

The House Republican Conference might have more women in its upper ranks than ever next year, and several members of the freshman class are seeking to raise their profiles, but not before a slate of contested races decides the leadership landscape.

At this point, the top three leaders of the party are safe bets. Barring electoral catastrophe, Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) will again head the GOP's House leadership next year.

But the potential exists for women to occupy the next three spots - the Conference's chairman, vice chairman and secretary - as the female vote is increasingly a deciding force in elections.

The influence of the 112th Congress' freshman class will also continue to be felt next year. Freshmen are in the hunt for the Conference vice chairman and secretary roles, as well as the Republican Policy Committee chairmanship.

Headlining the competitive races is the contest to be Conference chairman: Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) are locked in a tight race as they rack up support to replace outgoing Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas).

Of those Members who have publicly declared their support, McMorris Rodgers has earned more centrist GOP endorsements, with current and former Tuesday Group leaders such as Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (Mo.) in her corner.

Price, a former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, has the backing of that group's current chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), and Hensarling, who chaired the group before Price.

Price has other high-profile backers, including Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.) and the party's vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), who chairs the Budget Committee. Price's office confirmed that Reps. Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Patrick McHenry (N.C.) and Nan Hayworth (N.Y.) are also supporting him.

McMorris Rodgers has a spate of Members rounding up support for her, including Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (N.Y.); veteran Reps. Tom Cole (Okla.), Kay Granger (Texas), Ed Royce (Calif.) and Patrick Tiberi (Ohio); and freshman Reps. Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Tim Griffin (Ark.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).

Griffin, who has long been a McMorris Rodgers booster, said that a big part of her appeal is having a woman in the top conference slot, but that she has earned it in her own right by being a good communicator and expanding the Conference's use of social media.

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