The leader of the House Republican Study Committee, a group of 107 conservatives, says he has no intention of seeking the majority leader post in the House of Representatives should his party call for new elections to permanently replace Rep. Tom DeLay.
But Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) also wouldn’t rule out the possibility, telling HUMAN EVENTS today: “I’m not calling for leadership elections, and I have no intention, at this time, of seeking a leadership position in the Republican majority.”
DeLay, the Texas Republican who had to surrender the majority leader job upon his indictment in September, could face a challenge from within his own party if his court case isn’t resolved by the time Congress returns in January.
Among those considered potential candidates for the job are Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) and Reps. John Boehner (R.-Ohio), chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, and Tom Reynolds (R.-N.Y.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Pence’s name has also been mentioned. He was unanimously elected to his post at the Republican Study Committee and has made strides for conservatives in the House. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, it was Pence who spearheaded “Operation Offset,” which forced House Speaker Dennis Hastert to put forth a deficit reduction bill.
During his interview with HUMAN EVENTS, Pence relayed the story of how he became chairman of the Republican Study Committee, suggesting he would need to make sure he was able to serve God and his values regardless of his future role.
“I did not seek to become chairman of the Republican Study Committee,” he told HUMAN EVENTS. “When I was approached a year and a half ago by the board of founders to be appointed to that role, there were a few other members who were interested in doing it. And I felt very strongly that the only circumstance under which I would accept that would be if we reformed the bylaws of the Republican Study Committee to embrace free elections within the caucus.
“And we went through about a two-month period of negotiations, which included some of my colleagues saying, ‘We’ll just appoint somebody who is willing to accept appointment.’ And I said, ‘Do that, that’s fine.’ But I was not willing to accept the leadership of that caucus under circumstances that would not give me the moral authority to lead that caucus,” he added. “And you can imagine how humbled and surprised I was when we did have elections, and the floor was open for nominations, and I was elected unanimously.”
“I really believe some of the progress we’ve made this year is a direct result of how I came to this position. I can say very sincerely that I do not feel called in my heart to seek any greater role in the Republican majority. But I also believe that my life is not my own. And that the Lord put me in this position to serve him and to serve the values I came here to advance. And however long I get to be in Congress—I will always evaluate my circumstances to determine whether with integrity I can serve him and serve those values. But that being said, I have no intention at this time of seeking a leadership position. And I am not calling for leadership elections.”