- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

House Republicans are expected today to counter the Democrats' likely selection of Nancy Pelosi for a leadership post with a female voice of their own.
Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio is the front-runner in the race to succeed Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma as House Republican Conference chairman the party's No. 4 leadership slot in the House. Ms. Pryce has served for the past two years as vice chairman of the conference, which is charged with communicating the party's message.
She is running against Reps. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona and Jim Ryun of Kansas in one of the few contested House Republican leadership races, which will be decided today. House Democrats choose their leaders tomorrow.
Mrs. Pelosi, a liberal from California, is the front-runner in the race for House minority leader.
Ms. Pryce, a former judge, needs 115 vote commitments to win the race and has 140 so far, spokeswoman Jessica Incitto said.
Mr. Hayworth was gaining ground with 90 vote commitments late yesterday and was hoping to force a runoff with Ms. Pryce, said his spokesman, Larry VanHoose.
Ms. Pryce is confident she will win the Republican Conference post, and said that having a woman to counter Mrs. Pelosi "will be a positive in terms of their leadership versus ours."
"She will need answers, and I'm looking forward to that," Ms. Pryce said.
Ms. Pryce said, however, that her election ultimately would not be because of "the Pelosi factor."
"The fact of the matter is I had this race wrapped up before Nancy Pelosi even threw her hat into the ring," Ms. Pryce said.
Mr. Hayworth, who has made numerous appearances on radio and television talk shows and who is a former public relations consultant and radio commentator, said Republicans should not worry about following the Democrats.
"If last Tuesday demonstrated anything, it is the absolute certainty that we don't need to emulate the Democrats," he said, referring to the historic Republican gains in the midterm elections.
Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican and candidate for vice chairman of the conference, agreed.
"I don't think we look to the Democratic Party to inspire us," he said, adding that Republicans have long had women in their leadership ranks.
Women have served as vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, but never as chairman.
Mr. Hayworth's supporters noted his experience in the media, his energy and his national recognition.
"He's a great communicator," said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican. "Frankly, that's the most important part of the job, and he's the most capable person to fill that role."
Mr. Ryun, the underdog in the race, said he is the best one to communicate the Republican message because he knows the media, having been an Olympic runner at age 17 and a businessman who has helped firms address national public relations needs. He also said he is "at the core of where the party is" ideologically.
Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, said he supports Ms. Pryce because she has experience, is "incredibly articulate" and "likes to see all points of view before arriving at a decision."
He also said it helps to have a woman in the party leadership.
"It's helpful for both our party, our message and our theme of inclusiveness," he said. "It not only brings balance to our organization, but an interesting counterpart to Nancy Pelosi, where they can appear together on shows, etc."
Mr. Foley added that Mrs. Pelosi "is so liberal that she brings her party to the extreme left and that lets Deb Pryce shine as a centrist, as a mainstream woman of today's society."
A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll taken over the weekend found that 54 percent of the Democrats surveyed said their party should temper its liberal message.
The poll also found that 57 percent of those surveyed overall thought Democrats were not tough enough on terrorism. Sixty-four percent said Republicans were tough enough.
Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, Connecticut Republican and supporter of Ms. Pryce, said it is important to have diverse leadership, but even more important are experience and the maturity to disagree with fellow leaders if necessary.
"It's good for the caucus to have that diversity, but if you didn't have her experience and maturity, then diversity wouldn't matter much," she said of Ms. Pryce.
Meanwhile, many of the other leadership races seem set.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois will return as speaker, and Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas will assume the majority leader's slot. Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri is running unopposed for whip. The other hotly contested race, for National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, pits Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds of New York against Rep. Jerry Weller of Illinois.
For the Democrats, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland is unopposed for whip, the second-ranking position. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut is running against Rep. Robert Menendez of New Jersey for the caucus position.
In the Senate, both parties appear to have lined up their leadership.
Republicans hold their elections today. Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi will remain as leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will take over as whip, and Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania will remain conference chairman. Sen. George Allen of Virginia is running unopposed for chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the group charged with recruiting and electing Republicans to the Senate.
Senate Democrats don't vote on leaders until next month, but no Democrat has announced opposition to Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who said Sunday that he expected to keep his post and knew of no likely challenge.
Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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