Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Will Bob Ney Step Aside?

Roll Call (subscription required) reports this morning that Representative Bob Ney will address the House Republican conference, to express his commitment to his re-election fight:

Ney Takes Case to Conference
May 10, 2006
By Ben Pershing,
Roll Call Staff

House GOP leaders remained largely noncommittal Tuesday about the political future of embattled Rep. Bob Ney (R), even as some Republicans privately believe that if the Ohioan is indicted he should be encouraged to drop out of his re-election race.
Ney hopes to make his case to his colleagues at this morning’s Republican Conference meeting, two days after his former chief of staff, Neil Volz, became the fourth person to plead guilty in a wide-ranging corruption case featuring allegations that Ney took trips and gifts in exchange for official acts.

Ney has strongly disputed those charges and wants to remind his fellow lawmakers that he is ready to fight.

“He is hoping to speak to the whole Conference [Wednesday] and make clear that if he believed for one second that there was any truth to these allegations, he wouldn’t be standing before them and he wouldn’t put his family through this,” a source close to Ney said Tuesday. “He recognizes the questions that are out there among his colleagues and he welcomes the opportunity to have them hear from him directly.”

The article notes that no one in the House Republican leadership has spoken to Ney about stepping aside, but that there will be signifcant pressure if he is indicted.

Several leadership sources said that no one in the leadership has approached Ney yet, although they are paying close attention to the situation.

“This is really up to [Boehner],” said a senior Republican aide. “He’s a member of the Ohio delegation, and it would be on him to go to Ney if anyone does.”

The aide expected that Hastert and Boehner would “hold some discussions” regarding Ney, possibly as early as Tuesday, although it was unclear if and when any member of the GOP hierarchy will raise this issue directly with Ney.

That hesitation could disappear quickly if Ney was indicted and his campaign appeared to be unwinnable.

“If the Democrats are going to use the indictment against him, and his polling numbers plummet, and we’re in danger of losing the seat, then he should absolutely step down for the good of the party,” said a Republican leadership aide, who cautioned that the situation would have to deteriorate significantly before that would occur.

No word on the process in Ohio for designating a candidate in a circumstance like this, or who would step in. However, Ney's district is strongly Republican, so it's likely that any replacement candidate would have an excellent chance.

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