Blunt Is Out

Posted November 6, 2008 at 10:08am

Updated: 11:58 a.m. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) announced this morning that he will relinquish his No. 2 leadership job in the next Congress, clearing the way for his lieutenant, Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), to take his place. The decision, which was expected, comes in the wake of Election Day losses that pushed the Republicans further into the House minority. Blunt and Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) appear to be taking the fall for those defeats, while Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to survive. Blunt said he isn’t seeking any leadership role in the next Congress. He said he called Energy and Commerce ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) this morning to share his excitement at rejoining the committee. Blunt said he believes Cantor has what it takes to be the next Whip, namely “a lot of optimism,” and knowing that “you can’t hold a grudge.” “Eric Cantor has done a great job as Chief Deputy Whip,” Blunt said. “He shows tremendous capacity … to ask people to do things they don’t want to do.” Asked what he will miss about being the Whip, Blunt said he would miss all of it. “It is fun to be in the middle of every fight, every day,” the Missouri Republican said. “I was actually much more disruptive than I thought I could be.” Blunt stressed that he is leaving leadership on his own terms and dismissed the idea that Cantor was challenging him for the post. In a memo sent to colleagues Thursday morning, Blunt said he wrote himself a letter in January 2007 that he didn’t open until yesterday. In it, he wrote that if Republicans were not successful in recapturing the majority in 2008, he would not seek the Whip post again. House Republicans lost more than 20 seats in Tuesday’s bruising elections.