Editor’s Note – As the GOP continues to build its leadership team, an interesting contest is breaking out.
The headline states Tea Party vs. GOP Establishment, although that may not be entirely accurate. Certainly, Hensarling is well entrenched in the current GOP hierarchy, however, he does have a solid conservative record, save for his vote in favor of the Medicare Part D program. A little known fact is that he is related to Don Hensarling, the state director for the Florida 9/12 Project.
As for Michelle Bachmann, there can be no question that she has been at the forefront of the fight against the Progressive Left all along, putting herself on the line time and again, particularly during the battle over ObamaCare.
Perhaps, the compromise here is that Hensarling becomes chair and Bachmann becomes co-chair. To disregard Bachmann altogether sends a chilling message to the tea party faithful who have a legitimate concern about whether they’ll have a seat at the leadership table or not.
Race For No. 4 GOP Spot Pits Tea Party vs. Established Washington GOP
By Molly K. Hooper
The race for GOP Conference Chair is heating up as Reps. Jeb Hensarling and Michele Bachmann attempt to paint themselves as the true conservative representative of their party.
The Minnesota Republican’s decision to challenge Hensarling (R-Texas) for the conference post has left the former Republican Study Committee (RSC) chairman fighting against being labeled the “establishment” candidate in the race.
Since declaring his candidacy on Wednesday morning, Hensarling, a member of GOP Whip Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) deputy whip team, has collected a number of endorsements including Cantor, presumptive Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and outgoing GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.).
On Friday, however, Hensarling picked up a key endorsement from a lawmaker popular in the Tea Party movement.
Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn endorsed Hensarling in his bid to become the fourth-highest ranking Republican in the 112th Congress. Blackburn chose to endorse Hensarling over Bachmann, and intends to whip up support for the former Republican Study Committee chairman, her spokesman said.
As a Tea Party favorite, Bachmann has attempted to portray herself as the would-be voice of “constitutional conservatives.”
But the tactic may be rubbing members the wrong way, according to a GOP aide familiar with the situation.
GOP lawmakers are becoming resentful that the Minnesota lawmaker, a close pal of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, is running as the only voice that would represent the Tea Party in leadership.
They say Hensarling has long fought for Tea Party goals such as limited government and reduced government spending.
“Members are getting resentful of Bachmann, who they say is making the argument that you’re not really a Tea Party supporter, unless you support her. That’s gone through the formation of the Tea Party Caucus and the formation of this candidacy of hers. It’s just not so,” the GOP aide told The Hill.
Cantor was asked on “Fox News Sunday” whether backing Hensarling over Bachmann was endorsing the “old boys’ network” in Washington telling the Tea Party to wait its turn.
“You’ve got two conservatives in this race,” Cantor said. “You have an incoming class that is probably more diverse and more reflective of a growing conservative majority in this country than I’ve seen since I’ve been here in Washington.
“And these individuals will be allowed to vote for which conservative that they choose,” he said. “I mean, again, these are two conservatives. Neither individual could ever be accused of being anything but a conservative.”
Bachmann, the Tea Party darling, argues that the GOP should elect her as the House GOP’s effective spokesperson to show that the party respects the grass-roots movement that helped propel them into majority status once again.
She made that point in the letter to her GOP colleagues last week announcing her candidacy.
“It is important that our Conference demonstrate to the people who sent us here that their concerns will be tirelessly advanced at the table of leadership,” Bachmann said in the letter obtained by The Hill.
Her candidacy was bolstered last week when Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), also a favorite of the Tea Party crowd, endorsed Bachmann’s bid.
“The Republican Conference Chair needs to be the best communicator we have. … Michele has charisma and she brings with her an impressive skill set. She embodies the agenda of the constitutional conservatives. Constitutional Conservatives are the majority makers, the conscience of America and the new agenda setters,” King said.
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