Wamp for Whip

Less than twenty-four hours after he played a high-profile role in the conservative scotching of an attempt to make Rep. David Dreier (R.-Cal.) House Majority Leader, Rep. Zach Wamp (R.-Tenn.) has signaled he will run for House Whip himself next year. Wamp, a veteran of the "Gingrich class" of GOPers who put the House in Republican hands in 1994, would take on Rep. Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), who became acting Whip when Rep. Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) moved up from Whip to acting Majority Leader last week.

Wamp’s personal story is well-known by colleagues and constitutents. A onetime drug addict and alcoholic who never finished college, the Tennessean checked into a rehabilitation facility and came out a non-addict and non-drinker. He went on to be a successful salesman, worked with young people plagued by the same problems he had conquered, and was elected to Congress on his second try at age 37. While generally conservative on economic and social issues, Wamp has at times wandered from the right-of-center ranch: he vigorously supported statist campaign "reform" measures in the McCain-Feingold bill and is an outspoken opponent of privatization of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

While House Members from both parties usually elect their leaders following national elections every two years, there are signs that the current arrangement in the House GOP Conference could be voted on much sooner. As Rep. Phil English (R.-Pa.) told me following the election of Blunt and Cantor this week, "Speaker [Dennis] Hastert made clear the current resolution is something the Conference could revisit next year."


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