- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2010

Jockeying for the House Republican leadership hierarchy got a bit clearer Monday, as Rep. Pete Sessions said he will remain chairman of the caucus’ fundraising arm and won’t vie for GOP chief whip — avoiding a potentially contentious intraparty battle.

House Republicans also have tapped two newly elected congressmen who drew significant “tea party” backing for their campaigns to help lead the party’s transition to power.

Speculation had percolated in recent days that Mr. Sessions of Texas would challenge Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California for House Republican whip, as current Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia is expected to vacate the post and ascend to House majority leader.

But Mr. Sessions said that despite helping shepherd House Republicans’ record midterm election victories as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, “my vision and work is not done.”

“I strongly believe in selling the fight, and I will be asking my colleagues to support me as NRCC chairman next Congress to strengthen our gains and advance an agenda for American prosperity,” said the Texas lawmaker in a prepared statement Monday.

“I look forward to leading our new Majority through the challenges of re-electing over 80 freshman Republican members, navigating congressional redistricting, and maximizing a presidential election cycle.”

House Republican Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio, who is expected to be elected House speaker, praised Mr. Sessions‘ decision, saying House Republicans need his “steady hand of leadership next Congress.”

“As the architect for the new Republican Majority, Pete Sessions has my admiration and gratitude,” he said.

Mr. Boehner also has tabbed Mr. Sessions to take the lead for new member development.

Mr. Sessions‘ decision to stay at the helm of the NRCC clears the path for Mr. McCarthy to become chief majority whip, considered the No. 3 post in the new House GOP hierarchy.

Members of Congress of both parties are expected to vote on leadership positions soon after they return to Washington next week.

Meanwhile, Reps.-elect Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Tim Scott of South Carolina, who won endorsements from former Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and support from conservative tea party activists, are part of a newly named 22-member “transition team” charged with crafting new rules and smoothing the GOP’s shift from minority to majority.

The team, led by Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, includes influential incumbents like Reps. David Dreier of California, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Doc Hastings of Washington and Mr. Sessions.

Reps.-elect Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha Roby of Alabama also were named to the group.

Mr. Walden says he didn’t take tea party support into consideration when setting up the team, which he says represents a “diverse mix of experience, backgrounds and regions.”

But the inclusion of tea party favorites Mr. Kinzinger and Mr. Scott suggests House Republican leadership is taking the movement seriously.

In other leadership news, House Democratic Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland officially confirmed Monday he will step down and run for chief Democratic whip, clearing the way for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California to run for the House Democrats’ top spot.

Mr. Hoyer’s move sets up a contest with current Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, who said he intends to seek re-election to the post.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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