House GOP Leaders Get Active in Primaries

Posted June 24, 2008 at 6:27pm

After Republicans lost a series of competitive special elections this spring, GOP officials laid the blame at the footsteps of the “flawed candidates” that the party was saddled with after a couple of bitter primary fights.

It appears now that in light of those losses, party leaders are becoming much more overt in signaling who they would like to see emerge as their nominee in states with later primaries.

The latest example is an announcement this evening that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.) are openly backing attorney and former Bossier Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Thompson (R) in Louisiana’s open-seat battle in the Shreveport-based 4th district.

Republicans have been favored to hold this seat, which has been occupied for 20 years by retiring Rep. Jim McCrery (R), but Democrats insist they have a good shot because of the shifting demographics of the state and their unity behind longtime Caddo Parish District Attorney Paul Carmouche.

Though McCrery has already endorsed him, Thompson is not well-known and the Republican field is still considered to be up in the air with physician John Fleming and trucking executive Chris Gorman the other leading contenders for the nomination. Navy veteran Gerard Bowen is also seeking the GOP nomination.

The endorsements by Boehner and other well-known House GOP leaders will certainly let local Republicans know where the national party stands in the race.

“I’ve met with Jeff, and he is a true conservative with a pro-business track record in Northwest Louisiana,” Boehner said in a statement released by Thompson’s campaign. “In his campaign, Jeff has been leading the charge by calling for an increase in American oil and gas production to help lower the price at the pump, and he’s right on target.”