So Rep. Jeff Flake, one of the instigators of the Republican House leadership election, plans to announce his support of Rep. John Shadegg on Tuesday.
Shadegg continues to lag in numbers, but remains critical to the fortunes of all involved in the campaign to replace Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
With almost daily embarrassments trickling out about him, Rep. Roy Blunt is increasingly looking like damaged goods.
Meanwhile, Rep. John Boehner has run an efficient campaign, saying all the right things and embracing Shadegg's candidacy as though he were a fraternity rush chairman welcoming a new charge. Perhaps that's hitting a bit too close to home for Boehner, but he deserves credit for surviving this far into the race without a major shoe dropping.
Before the election began, Boehner was assuring his supporters that his was a clean record. It appears that that may be the case, unless the Washington Post and New York Times are sitting on damaging material, hoping to spring it at a more embarrassing moment.
After deafening silence and facing pressure from conservatives to speak up about the race for majority leader, Republican Study Committee chairman Rep. Mike Pence endorsed John Shadegg this morning.
This is great news and should be a great boost for the right man.
The RSC just sent Pence's letter around:
Two weeks from today, the Republican Congress will face a choice of enormous significance in the life of our nation and our majority. As chairman of the Republican Study Committee, it is always my goal to take action, with deliberation, in the best interests of our members and the conservative movement.
Out of respect for the fact that members of RSC would be supporting a variety of candidates, I had intended to withhold any endorsement in the race for Majority Leader. But given the addition of a prominent RSC member to the field and given that many members have already expressed a preference, it has become clear to me that an earlier, personal endorsement is now appropriate.
The current contest for GOP leader in the House of Representatives is the first time in the history of the Republican Party that party members, that is, all of us in the blogosphere, can directly influence the decision.
For the next three weeks, until the secret ballot vote on February 2, the back benchers will be eyes and ears open to e-mail and catcalling from us in the pachyderm herd. Establishment candidate Roy Blunt of Missouri -- who speaks in favor of grotesque earmarks and does not condemn DeLay for his lunatic 527 abuses -- has fallen short of pledged votes to lock it up for the first ballot. Challenger John Boehner of Ohio is a sincere and well-prepared reformer of the rotten practices that led to the present crisis. Boehner opposes earmarks and the egregious forms of lobbyist bribery such as travel tickets and accommodations, such as back-scratching, money-laundering 527s. And now there is John Shadegg of Arizona, who represents the Directory-fiery Republican Study Committee, which fancies itself the Spirit of '94, the clean it all up tyros, Cromwell rides again.
I am a fan of brooms.
The three House majority leader candidates are on Fox News Sunday. Rep. John Boehner on the ongoing tallies (approx. transcript): "We're polling our colleagues. Nothing matters until they vote by secret ballot." Those few words of common sense outweigh the week of hot air emitted by these candidates, their surrogates, and the punditocracy.
If this is the way Rep. John Shadegg makes a decision, perhaps he isn't the right man for the House GOP leadership slot.
Mid-afternoon yesterday, Shadegg supporters were emailing associates around town that their man had decided not to seek the Republican leader position. A few hours later, upon further consultation with advisers and members of the Republican caucus, he indicated that should Reps. Roy Blunt or John Boehner not move closer to wrapping up a win, he will enter the race.
At this point, his "I'm out, but I'm in" approach to political gamesmanship is making him look indecisive and rather small.
If you've been tracking the going's on today in the House Republical Leader race, you'll know that the big story was Rep. John Boehner's touted plan to change the way legislative earmarks are dealt with in legislation: namely, he'd make earmarks as we know them today a thing of the past.
Getting earmarks inserted into legislation is big business in Washington and there is no better outfit at getting their clients earmarks than the mega-lobbying and advocacy firm of Cassidy and Associates. So no big surprise that Cassidy was hosting a mega fundraiser for Rep. Roy Blunt's leadership PAC, Rely On Your Beliefs (ROYB).
Problem is, the fundraiser -- $5000 per head -- was to be held on January 26, a week before the election for House Leader.
Late today came word that Blunt had canceled the fundraiser.
As we reported yesterday afternoon, the predicted end of the House Majority Leader election that other blog sites were reporting never came, and now it appears Republicans in the House have settled in for the long haul. No more than about a third of the GOP caucus, if that, has truly committed to either Reps. Roy Blunt and John Boehner. Why?
"Almost certainly it's because we're waiting for the other shoes to drop on both of them," a Republican House member explained. "If a member is in Washington, they are already hearing that reporters are circling around the 'Boehner is a party animal' stories from a few years ago. You're hearing there are major pieces on Blunt's relationships with lobbyists being developed. Beyond the most loyal supporter none of us is willing to go out on a limb that might get sawed off pretty quickly. If you're out of town you're hearing if from your colleagues on conference calls we're holding."
Co-host Larry Kudlow tonight was irrepressible in his loud whisper campaign for John Shadegg of 3rd Arizona as a fresh challenger to the apparent stand-off between Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri and John Boehner of 8th Ohio in their bruising contest for House Republican majority leader. Shadegg is the fifth ranking Republican in the House now, chair of the House Republican Committee, and enjoys an iron-bound reputation for his chair of the stalwart Republican Study Committee in the first Bush term.
We spoke to Thaddeus McCotter of 11th Michigan, who promoted John Boehner as the man to change the unsavory ways of the pork barrel Republicans. McCotter is not RSC, and did not speak for or against RSC chair Mike Pence of 6th Indiana or other tyros. McCotter spoke in favor of a transformation in the way the House conducts business. Discipline, honor, transparency, humility. Blunt is business as usual -- Delayism without the cash binges. Boehner represents the unglamorous labor of government; McCotter added that Boehner had offered no plum for McCotter's vote, and no favor was asked.
Sorry, we've been busy with Alito hearing stuff. A few things for the late afternoon roundup:
1. The White House is extremely happy with the proceedings in the Senate confirmation hearing of Judge Samuel Alito.
2. Democrats are not. They are so frustrated by their members' poor performance and inability to get traction that they have indicated a willingness to Chairman Specter to cancel a third day of questioning by members (the 20-minute followup question round) and go right to the panels.
3. Look for the conservatives in the House to put formally press Rep. John Shadegg into the House Leader race. There is growing concern about both both Reps. Roy Blunt and John Boehner, and conservatives are looking for a third option.
4. Rep. Jerry Lewis is not that option.
More on all of this going into tonight and tomorrow morning.