House Republican Leadership may have “twisted arms” to defeat conservative Mulvaney for Republican Study Committee Chair

House Republican Leadership

A top conservative Republican in the House alleges House Republican Leadership “twisted arms” to edge out conservative favorite Mick Mulvaney for the Chairmanship of the Republican Study Committee. Two-term Texas Congressman Bill Flores will lead the RSC, which serves as the conservative conscience of the House Republican Caucus.

As he left the closed-door meeting where Flores was elected, Idaho Republican Raul Labrador signaled “someone” in House Republican Leadership mounted a whipping operation for Flores, who beat Mulvaney 84 votes to 57 votes.

From The Hill’s account:

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said GOP leaders mounted a whipping operation that included phone calls to help Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) upset Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a Tea Party favorite, on the second ballot in the race for RSC chairman.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, another Texas Republican, was eliminated on the first ballot.

Asked what put Flores over the top, Labrador told reporters as he exited the closed-door elections: “It’s always leadership. When leadership gets involved in elections. [They] twisted arms.”

Labrador conceded he wasn’t exactly sure whether it was Boehner or someone else carrying water for Flores. “I don’t know who was leading it,” Labrador said.

Labrador has stepped out to criticize Republican leadership a number of times since he was first elected to Congress in 2010. He abstained from voting for John Boehner for Speaker in January 2013, joining 11 other Republicans in either abstaining or casting their votes for someone else. Michigan Congressman Justin Amash voted for Labrador for Speaker during that election.

Flores had “the backing of more establishment Republicans” and of former RSC Chairman and current Majority Whip Steve Scalise, POLITICO reported. As Chairman, Scalise fired longtime RSC Executive Director Paul Teller, a move that strained the relationship between the RSC and outside conservative organizations. Teller joined Senator Cruz’s staff shortly thereafter.

POLITICO reported earlier this year that Speaker Boehner was seeking to crack down on dissent within the Republican Caucus, targeting conservatives who refuse to get in line with major policy efforts. The move to back Flores by Republican Leadership could be another aspect of that initiative.

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