- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A vocal House conservative and the leader of a liberal wing of House Republicans united yesterday to back Rep. John Shadegg to be majority leader, saying he is the best choice to bring true reform.

“We’re most likely to see bold initiatives if John Shadegg is elected majority leader,” said Rep. Charles Bass of New Hampshire, chairman of the Tuesday Group, a gathering of more liberal House Republicans.

Mr. Bass announced the endorsement yesterday with Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, weeks after the two first spurred the leadership race by circulating a petition calling for such elections.

The Republican Party has been shaken by the indictment of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and many are now discussing lobbying reform, budget reform and other changes.

Mr. Shadegg, Arizona Republican, made a late entrance into the majority leader’s race, joining Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio and front-runner Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who has been acting majority leader since Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, stepped down from the post in September.

Mr. Bass and Mr. Flake worked closely together last year to try to reform the budget process, enforce fiscal discipline, reduce the number of earmarks and create a more open, honest budget structure. Their efforts were largely unsuccessful, but both said yesterday Mr. Shadegg is the one to work with them to make those changes.

“John has been a reformer from the beginning,” Mr. Flake said.

“I want moderate Republicans to understand that if you care about reform and you want a fresh face, this is the man to support,” Mr. Bass added.

“This shows again that this race is not about moderate versus conservative — it is a choice between real reform and the status quo,” Mr. Shadegg said in a statement.

Mr. Boehner, meanwhile, praised Mr. Bass and Mr. Flake “for helping bring greater attention to the need for reducing pork and wasteful earmarks.”

He noted that he has never asked for a single pork-barrel project for his congressional district.

“I look forward to working with them as majority leader on earmark and budget reforms so we can change the way Congress does business,” Mr. Boehner said.

A senior House Republican aide said Mr. Boehner is likely wooing the Shadegg camp so they’ll vote for him in the likelihood that none of the three candidates win a majority of Republicans and members must vote a second time in a runoff between the top two candidates, likely Mr. Boehner and Mr. Blunt.

Mr. Flake agreed that Mr. Boehner is solid on the earmark issue, but said Mr. Shadegg is still his first choice. Mr. Bass said all three candidates are philosophically in the same conservative camp, but Mr. Shadegg “will restore America’s faith” in Congress.

Mr. Blunt’s office made no public statement on the pair’s endorsement, but continued to say Mr. Blunt has enough public and private commitments to win the race.

A secret-ballot vote is set for Feb. 2.

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