This is the second consecutive RSC election in which a first-term congressman was elected chairman over a more senior lawmaker.
Johnson said current RSC Chairman Mark Walker of North Carolina started a good precedent for running as a freshman.
RSC bylaws limit chairmen to serving one term. Walker, who was elected this week to serve as the Republican Conference vice chairman for the 116th Congress, will officially hand over the reins of the RSC to Johnson in December.
“The RSC is in great hands moving forward,” Walker said. “With [Johnson’s] experience both in his legal field as well as the values that he’s been representing long before he came to Congress, that puts us up for a good two years.”
Johnson said he was honored to have the trust of his colleagues and thankful for the opportunity to lead the RSC.
“I really believe the next two years are going to be RSC’s finest moment,” he said. “It’s never been more important than it is right now for us to speak with clarity, conviction and consistency about what we believe, why we believe that and why it’s best for America. We’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us, a great challenge, but we’re ready for it.”
With Republicans moving from the majority to the minority, there will be some “structural fine-tuning” of the RSC, Johnson said, noting there’s a great foundation already.
“We’re going to work on connecting our members very closely and trying to build unity within our conference, because we think that’s very important … and really work on coordination with our allied groups, outside policy groups and those who think along the same lines as us, so we can coordinate all that effort together and really have great effect,” he said.
Johnson and Walker have already begun talking about coordinating messaging strategies that develop out of the RSC with those of the larger Republican Conference.
McClintock said he will stay on as a member of the RSC but hasn’t given any thought to whether he’d want to lead any task force or committees that the group forms this year. He had led the RSC’s budget committee this past Congress.
“I think Mike Johnson is a very capable individual and will make a great chairman,” McClintock said. “The fact of the matter is he completely out campaigned me during the recess.”