Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Times, They Are a Changin...

Roll Call offers two articles today that preview likely changes in the House Republican leadership, whatever happanes on election day. Both require subscriptions, but I'll print excerpts:

Republicans Jockey For Leadership Posts
November 2, 2006
By Susan Davis and Ben Pershing,
Roll Call Staff

While House Republican leaders remain publicly optimistic in their Election Day forecasts, increasing chatter among the GOP rank and file indicates a significant number of Members are prepping for losses and wide-open leadership races in the aftermath of Nov. 7.

Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), who launched an unsuccessful bid for Majority Leader earlier this year, has taken to holding near-daily conference calls for at least the past two weeks with selected Republican Members, according to multiple House sources.

The calls have been characterized as “strategy sessions” among conservative Members on how to maintain the majority, as well as discussions on the future conservative agenda. GOP Reps. Mike Pence (Ind.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Pete Hoekstra (Mich.), among others, have taken part...

Similarly, sources said moderate members of the Conference have been holding informal discussions over the make-up of the leadership slate if Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio), the lone moderate in leadership, loses her re-election bid Tuesday.

If she successfully retains her House seat and chooses to seek another term leading the Conference, Pryce is expected to face a challenge from at least two colleagues: Reps. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Jack Kingston (Ga.), who are known to have ambitions for the post. But multiple House GOP aides said Wednesday that speculation has grown in recent days that Republican Policy Committee Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) could attempt a step up the leadership ladder and join that contest...

The race for the Conference vice chairmanship also is gaining clarity as Republican sources said Wednesday that rumored candidate Rep. Kay Granger’s office has made some initial contacts with her fellow Texas Republicans to let them know she may decide to throw her hat in that ring...

GOP aides also have said that in recent days Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.) has been increasingly seen as a strong potential contender for the Conference vice chairmanship. Along with Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), Kirk runs the centrist Tuesday Group, and he has taken the lead in recent weeks in reaching out to his fellow moderates to discuss how the party can do a better job of reflecting centrist ideas.

Kirk’s candidacy could gain momentum if Pryce loses, as moderates will be looking to keep a seat at the leadership table.

Additionally, those same sources believe that Rep. John Carter (Texas) has made great gains in his bid for Conference secretary, and one House GOP aide said Carter is seen as having the votes “locked up.” A spokeswoman for Carter did not return a call by press time.

Reps. Todd Tiahrt (Kan.), Mike Rogers (Mich.) and Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) remain in the mix as Members regularly mentioned as potential contenders, though none of the three have indicated whether or not they will run for a leadership post...

Cantor Pushes for Reforms
November 2, 2006
By Susan Davis,
Roll Call Staff

House Chief Deputy Majority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) has no interest in discussing his own future ambitions, but he has begun outlining a framework for what he says is much-needed soul-searching on the future of the House Republican Conference and the party’s agenda...

Cantor maintains that Republicans will retain the House majority next Tuesday and that the current leadership slate will stay largely intact — although as a member of leadership he has little leeway to say otherwise — but he freely offers that Republicans need to start changing the way they do business.

“We will hold the House, I think obviously it’s going to be by a reduced margin,” Cantor said. “At that point what I would like to see is for us to take a breather.”

Cantor advocates postponing the scheduled Nov. 15 leadership elections for two reasons. First, he said Members need to know the outcome of the ongoing Committee on Standards of Official Conduct investigation into the activities of former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) because current leaders — including Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.), Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) — as well as several senior leadership aides have been involved in the investigation...

But more broadly, Cantor said House Republicans need to meet and discuss the game plan for the 110th Congress.

“We really need to try and address things in a little different way. My desire would be for us to take a few days and meet as a Conference ... to take stock of where we are,” he said. “I think at the end of the day the fact that we have not delivered on some of the things we set out to do [means] we need to come out of the gate in the next Congress with a recipe for success. There are plenty of times you can give excuses as to why we don’t produce, but the electorate doesn’t stand for it.”

Cantor said the rash of ethical scandals that dogged Republicans in the 109th Congress is unacceptable and the House needs to take serious action to put mechanisms in place to try to prevent future scenarios...

Cantor cited as an example the use of information technology audits in the private sector and some local governments, in which employees are aware of periodic audits of communications sent from their offices. He said that kind of mechanism may have prevented Foley from using e-mail and Instant Messenger to inappropriately contact pages.

Cantor is mulling introducing his own legislative proposal, which has not been hashed out, that would include what he calls “internal control mechanisms.” He said Republicans need to take serious reform actions to address how some Members abused the system for their own gain.

Citing the actions of incarcerated former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) and Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), Cantor said more needs to be done to address earmark reform and oversight of federal dollars.

“We have some divide in our Conference over what the Appropriations Committee ought to be doing and ought to be transparent about,” he said. “I fully support transparency on that, to me, that’s a little step.”

Cantor noted that the increased spotlight on the earmark process caused a 37 percent drop in earmark requests this fiscal year...

It's virtually a certainty that any reformist surges we see now will be lessened by the time the conference meets to elect leaders. That seems to be the way of movements for change in Congress - at least in the 15 years or so I've been watching. That's why it's encouraging to see such an appetite for change among some of the 'backbenchers.'

And there definitely is a realization that the conservative base feels that the Congressional GOP has 'lost its way,' at least on some issues. I think there's a chance for significant reforms, at least if the Republicans retain control of the House.

Of course, Democratic control would bring a whole different set of changes.

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