Elections for House Republican leadership are heating up, and it has the potential for embarrassment for Speaker John Boehner. Yesterday, BuzzFeed reported that Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) turned down an offer from Boehner for him to back out of his bid for chairman of the House Republican Conference, a nod to his preferred pick, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA):
According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, Boehner approached the Georgia Republican with the offer hoping to circumvent an ugly fight between Price and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers over chairmanship of the House Republican Conference.
McMorris Rodgers, a key surrogate for Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid, is favored by leadership. But Price has the backing of conservatives both within the conference and the broader movement, and his bid has threatened to turn the race ugly.
According to these sources, Boehner offered to make Price chairman of the Elected Leadership Council, the group of GOP leaders that runs the party in the House. The chairmanship carries prestige, but is not elected and is largely ceremonial since Boehner is in charge of the party.
But Boehner’s proposal came with a catch — Price would have to swear loyalty to leadership and promise not to break with them over the next two years.
Price, a doctor and former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, has been fairly consistent in pushing fiscally conservative principles in the House. He was one of the fiercest opponents of ObamaCare and has been known to vote against leadership from time to time.
This fairly important because Boehner has been asking his caucus for their support as they dive into negoiations with the White House and Senate Democrats over the debt ceiling. Price’s nod of support would be helpful to get conservatives in the House on board in the event of a potential deal.
Making this even more interesting is FreedomWorks endorsing Price’s bid for Republican Conference chair. Price has a 91% lifetime score with FreedomWorks (88% this year). Price also scored an 86% on the Club for Growth’s most recent scorecard. McMorris Rogers, on the other hand, has a lifetime score of 75% from FreedomWorks (56% this year) and 61% on Club for Growth’s most recent scorecard.
Wheeling and dealing isn’t needed if Boehner and company don’t have something up their sleeves. If the battle is between those who will stick behind fiscally conservative principles and those who would sell them out for political convenience, as Boehner may do as they approach the “fiscal cliff,” the choice is pretty clear here.