U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will not seek a new leadership post as House Republicans realign their top spots in the wake of John Boehner’s resignation.
The Spokane Republican, who has rejected requests for an interview since Friday when Boehner’s surprise announcement threw the House GOP into a leadership scramble, released a brief statement Monday evening that she planned to stay as conference chairwoman, the caucus’s Number 4 position.
She had been mentioned in national newspapers and political web sites as a candidate for the Number 2 position, majority leader, which would become open if the current occupant, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, moved up to the post of speaker.
“At this time, I believe the best way for me to work for Eastern Washington is to remain conference chair. My top priority is to make a difference for the people of Eastern Washington,” she wrote in another statement released by her staff.
Two other House Republicans have announced their candidacy for their caucus’s Number 2 post: Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, who is currently House whip, and Tom Price, of Georgia, the Budget Committee chairman who previously lost an election to McMorris Rodgers for conference chairman seat.
Earlier in the day, she sent her Republican colleagues a memo urging them to find ways to work together as they prepared for a House GOP meeting Tuesday.
The “Dear Colleague” letter, released by her staff, precedes a pair of meetings of Republican House members on Tuesday. The subject of a special meeting set for 5 p.m. is listed as, “to discuss the strategy moving forward.” As chairwoman of the House Conference, McMorris Rodgers will preside over the meetings.
The letter says they’ve all had time to “search in our hearts why we are here and how we can be more effective in this cause that unites us.” It also mentions she met with many if them over the summer about “our shared vision for America”, warns of frustrations of the public with status quo in Washington and worries about the administration and the courts eroding the power of the House.
“We must strengthen the role of this chamber…by empowering members to do the important work needed, and required, for our country’s future,” she wrote. “This conference meeting is not about any one leader or group of members.”
On Sunday, a leader of the Freedom Caucus, which has some of the most conservative Republicans in the House who have been critical of Boehner, said that group hasn’t decided whom it will support for speaker, or any other positions that might open up. Instead it wants to meet with candidates and other Republicans “in a careful and deliberative fashion to discuss how best to ensure that we follow regular order in the House and give voice to the countless Americans who still feel that Washington does not represent them,” the statement from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, is a founding member of that caucus and did not support Boehner the last time he ran for speaker. A spokesman said Labrador was flying back to Washington, D.C., on Monday and not available to talk about his views on the leadership change.