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Republicans barrel toward congressional leadership elections

FILE – From left, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., arrive for a ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Sept. 29, 2022. (G3 Box News Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) Andrew Harnik/G3 Box News

Republicans barrel toward congressional leadership elections

Ryan King

November 15, 06:00 AM November 15, 06:01 AM

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The halls of Congress are bustling this week as Republicans prepare to hold leadership elections in the House and Senate amid infighting over the top posts.

While the balance of power in both chambers is still in flux, with more than a dozen House races yet to be called and the Georgia Senate race bogged down in a runoff, both parties are gearing up to decide who will lead their conference for the next two years.

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House Republicans will hold their closed-door vote on Tuesday, while Senate Republicans will vote on Wednesday — all despite calls in both chambers for a delay until after the midterm elections have concluded. Democrats are slated to hold their own elections after Thanksgiving.

Here is a rundown of who is running for the top leadership spots this week.

House Republicans: Tuesday

Speaker of the House

After it slipped away from him in 2015, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is once again pursuing the speaker’s gavel. With his party projected to claw back a razor-thin majority in the House, McCarthy announced his bid last week but has faced internal opposition, particularly from the hard-line House Freedom Caucus.

Former Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) is reportedly considering a challenge against McCarthy, who has been working feverishly behind the scenes to shore up his long-hoped-for ascension to the top spot in Congress. Slim margins have seemingly strengthened the conservative caucus’s hand as members threaten to withhold their votes.

After the party nominates a standard-bearer to be speaker, a floor vote will take place in the new Congress next year, and McCarthy will have to reach a 218-vote threshold to win the gavel.

House Majority Leader

In a much less dramatic race, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who currently serves as the conference’s whip, is running unopposed for majority leader.

House Majority Whip

Vacated by Scalise as he vies for a higher post, there’s a three-way contest for House majority whip between National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer (R-MN), Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN), and Chief Deputy Whip Drew Ferguson (R-GA).

All three have been courting their colleagues in one of the more dramatic leadership battles of the lower chamber.

House Republican Conference Chair

Before the midterm elections took place, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) ended speculation she would run for majority whip and opted to vie for another term in her current position, which crafts messaging for the party.

Stefanik, who has been backed by former President Donald Trump, succeeded outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) last year. She is facing an uphill challenge from Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) in her reelection bid.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chair

With Emmer jockeying for House majority whip, Reps. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Darin LaHood (R-IL) were facing off to helm the NRCC, the House GOP’s campaign arm. During a House GOP candidate forum ahead of leadership elections Monday, LaHood dropped out of the race.

Conference Secretary

The conference secretary race has shaped up to be a three-way battle between Reps. Lisa McClain (R-MI), Andrew Clyde (R-GA), and Glenn Grothmann (R-WI). Clyde is a member of the House Freedom Caucus. McClain is favored to win the race, according to Politico.

Senate Republicans: Wednesday

Senate Minority Leader

A growing chorus of Republican senators have pressed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to postpone the Senate GOP leadership elections until after the Georgia Senate runoff between Republican Herschel Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) concludes. Yet elections are moving forward despite these pleas.

No rivals have come forward to challenge the 80-year-old Kentucky Republican for his post, though it’s possible Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who has butted heads with McConnell over election strategy, could mount a challenge.

Senate Minority Whip

Incumbent Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) is expected to keep his perch as party whip in the upper chamber. He is not facing any challenges as of yet.

Senate Conference Chair

Similar to Thune, incumbent Senate Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) is widely expected to keep the post.

National Republican Senatorial Committee

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) will most likely be the next chairman of the NRSC, the campaign arm for the Senate GOP. He will replace Scott, who will be up for reelection in the 2024 election cycle.

Senate Policy Committee Chair

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is likely to become the policy committee chairwoman, according to Politico. The committee conducts analyses of issues before Congress and focuses on political strategy.

G3 Box News

Democrats are slated to hold their internal congressional deliberations after the Thanksgiving break, with House leadership elections on Nov. 30 and Senate elections on Dec. 5.

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