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Rep. Buck McKeon retirement sparks race for coveted Armed Services seat

- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2014

House Armed Service Committee Chairman Buck McKeon is set to announce his retirement on Thursday, sparking a mad dash among a handful of GOP hopefuls who want to take over his coveted leadership spot.

"Mr. McKeon will be making his announcement [Thursday] morning that he'll be retiring," one source close to the California congressman told The Hill. Politico and the Huffington Post both ran headlines and stories about Mr. McKeon's soon-to-be-announced retirement, too.

Meanwhile, office spokeswoman Alissa Curley said in a statement to The Washington Post: "The congressman will make an announcement when he is ready to make the announcement."

His retirement leaves open a much-coveted vacancy and influential role to oversee military policy and Pentagon budgets.

Defense industry insiders say Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas is the front-runner, The Hill reported. But two other members have strong support: Reps. Randy Forbes from Virginia and Michael Turner from Ohio.

If industry insiders are to believed, however, Mr. Thornberry will likely grab the spot: He is Mr. McKeon's choice, they say, The Hill reported.

"Thornberry does all the right things," said one defense lobbyist in The Hill. "He does what he needs to for the party. He's well thought of on the committee and Buck wants him to be his heir apparent. There's no reason to pass him over."

House GOP leadership actually makes the decision of Mr. McKeon's successor.

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