How Conservatives Killed GOP Attempt to Make Dreier the House Leader

Two weeks after House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) moved up to be acting majority leader after incumbent Leader Tom DeLay (R.-Tex.) was indicted, the role of conservative grass-roots organizations in seeing that Blunt rather than the reported first choice of Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.) is becoming clear.

According to Coalitions for America head Paul Weyrich, representatives of nearly 40 groups that he hosts for lunch on a weekly basis signed a statement calling for the election of Blunt rather than the plan that, sources say, Hastert and DeLay had supported: the appointment of House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R.-Calif.) as acting leader, which would have disrupted the traditional chain of command in the House GOP Leadership.

Weyrich’s office delivered the statement to the House GOP Conference on September 28th within an hour of news reports that DeLay had been indicted and stepped down. In addition, several Members of Weyrich’s luncheon group admonished Rep. Todd Akin (R.-Mo). to carry their feelings to his colleagues in the Republican Study Committee, which held a closed-door meeting to discuss the succession to DeLay before the full Conference took action.