Burgess in Race for Policy Chair

Posted November 7, 2008 at 4:28pm

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) has thrown his hat into the race for Republican Policy Committee chairman, a challenge to the leadership lineup rapidly being orchestrated behind the scenes by Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Burgess, who is currently vice chairman of the committee, said he is seeking the post because the “Republican ship needs righting,” and the Policy Committee can help “chart a fresh course.”

“I’ve kind of been on the sidelines” for the past two years, he said.

During that time, Burgess said he has tried to play a significant role on policy issues ranging from health care to energy.

“I’m not smart enough to be [Minority] Leader. I can’t count high enough to be Whip,” the Texas Republican said. “Policy is about the only one where I could play.”

Burgess said he called Boehner and current Policy Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) on Wednesday to let them know about his plan to run. Asked about Boehner’s response, he said: “He was very able to restrain his unbridled enthusiasm.”

“Clearly, he and Thaddeus are buddies,” Burgess said. While Boehner hasn’t formally endorsed a candidate for the post, Burgess said “he’s not going to go against a person with loyalty, I understand that. I would hope people with whom I have relations would take a similar position if the question was posed to them.”

Burgess said he has been talking with several Members and has gotten mixed reviews about his campaign. But he said some Members want him to continue because “they don’t like the concept of a slate of candidates that leadership presents to the Conference and we vote up or down.”

Boehner, who is seeking another term as Minority Leader, has been quietly encouraging his loyalists to run for leadership in the next Congress. He has endorsed in the races for Whip, Conference chair and National Republican Congressional Committee.