Conservative activists continued today to try to pressure Senate Republicans to elect Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) as their next Conference vice chairman, with ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell becoming the latest grass-roots leader to advocate for the freshman lawmaker.
Johnson, elected with substantial tea party support last November in his first bid for public office, is battling Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), who is also a 2010 freshman but a more established Capitol Hill figure from his 14 years in the House, including as a member of senior leadership. On Thursday, RedState.com founder Erick Erickson urged conservatives to contact Senate Republicans and demand that they side with Johnson. On Friday, Bozell echoed Erickson’s call.
“Though the first votes for the Republican Presidential nomination will be cast in 25 days, an important election for conservatives across the country will be held much sooner,” Bozell said in a statement.
“Tuesday of next week, the election for Vice Chairman of the Republican Conference within the United States Senate will be held. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is the clear choice for conservatives as he has been a commanding voice for conservatives within the Republican Party. Senator Johnson is a freshman senator, elected during the tidal wave 2010 elections, and has owned and operated a business for 31 years. He is not part of Washington’s establishment,” the statement said.
“His opponent in this race is Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri,” Bozell continued. “He is a creature of the establishment who is endorsed and supported by” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). ForAmerica is a 501(c)(4) organization that bills itself as having “the largest online conservative army.”
McConnell’s office has flatly denied any involvement in the contest for Conference vice chairman, the No. 5 leadership position that usually draws minimal attention outside of the Senate. The vote, which is scheduled to occur during Tuesday’s weekly policy lunch, is conducted by secret ballot and will be presided over by outgoing Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.). Alexander announced earlier this fall that he would step down in January.
Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.) is running uncontested for the Conference chairman position being vacated by Alexander. The current Conference vice chairman, Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), is running uncontested for Policy Committee chairman.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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