The race between McMorris Rodgers, above, and Price for conference chairman is the most competitive GOP House leadership contest.
McMorris Rodgers made a promotional video as well, and she and her allies have been working from a whip list, ranking members from 1, indicating sure support, to 5, who are lost causes. The candidate has been making calls particularly to members ranked 2 or 3 to try to move them up a notch, according to sources with knowledge of her whip operation.
The results of the conference chairmanship election could have downballot effects, sources said, especially on the RSC race, which will be decided when RSC members cast ballots Thursday afternoon.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana is facing off against Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia to become RSC chairman. Scalise said he wants to tamp down the Republican infighting that has characterized the last two years. Though Graves declined to be interviewed, knowledgeable sources said he would be more likely to encourage the RSC to challenge leadership positions if they are not perceived to be conservative enough.
If Price, whom RSC insiders see as one of their own, makes it to the upper echelons of leadership, there could be less of a push to have a rabble-rousing RSC. On the other hand, if McMorris Rodgers, a reliable vote for leadership’s priorities, prevails, the RSC might be more likely to continue its conservative crusade outside the bounds of leadership.
Gender politics is also playing a role in the race to hold the Homeland Security Committee gavel. Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., would be the only woman to chair a House committee in the 113th Congress, and the desire to have a woman in that seat could intensify if Price defeats McMorris Rodgers. The counterargument is that Miller would be the fourth Michigander to chair a committee. She is facing off against Reps. Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas. Miller said both arguments get on her nerves.
“Guess what? Obviously I’m a woman, and I’m from Michigan. Not much I can do about those things,” she said. “But on the other hand, I am asking the steering committee to consider me on my merits.”
Boehner could use his authority to nominate the heads of certain committees, such as Ethics or House Administration, to ensure a woman heads a panel. A few of the roughly three dozen spots on the Republican Steering Committee remain up for grabs as well. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, the regional representative of Indiana and his home state of Ohio, is retiring, and several sources said Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi, a close Boehner ally, is vying to replace him.
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.