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McMorris Rodgers Sits Out Majority Leader Race

McMorris Rodgers won't run for majority leader after all. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers will not run for majority leader in the post-John A. Boehner leadership shakeup, she said in a statement Monday night.  

"The best way right now for me to empower my colleagues through positive change is to remain Conference Chair," the Washington Republican said. The announcement brings to an end her nearly 72-hour period of phone calls and courtship of lawmakers in the wake of Boehner's surprise announcement that he'd resign his speakership at the end of October. Conventional wisdom holds that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will succeed Boehner, leaving a scramble to succeed McCarthy.  

McMorris Rodgers so far has been the only woman to express an interest in moving up in the ranks in a crowded field of male contenders, though Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., was interested in replacing her should an opening occur.  

On Monday night, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., told a couple reporters she was committed to backing McMorris Rodgers for the majority leader position over the other contenders, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Budget Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., mentioning among other things her eagerness to see a woman be represented in an all-male leadership slate.  

But between Scalise using the connections and infrastructure he currently has as whip, and Price's high-profile endorsements from leading House conservatives Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, McMorris Rodgers might not have had enough of a constituency to compete this time around.  

Sources say, however, she wouldn't rule out trying to move up the ladder at some other future date.  

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

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