No one disputes Republicans used the once-a-decade redistricting process to lock in their House majority — almost certainly through 2014 and possibly until the next round of line-drawing in 2020.
Some top GOP strategists and candidates warn that the ruby red districts the party drew itself into are pushing House Republicans further to the right — narrowing the party’s appeal at a time when some GOP leaders say its future rests on the opposite happening. If you’re looking for a root cause of the recurring drama within the House Republican Conference — from the surprise meltdown on the farm bill to the looming showdown over immigration reform — the increasingly conservative makeup of those districts is a good place to start.
How this battle turns out could be a leading indicator on how far right the House will be willing to shift post election.
A battle over a key leadership position has split senior House Republicans.
Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) and Tom Price (GA) will go head-to-head Wednesday afternoon as the members hold a closed-door vote to elect the next House Republican Conference Chairman, the party’s No. 4 leadership role.
Speaker John Boehner is officially neutral but privately supporting McMorris Rodgers. Paul Ryan, the returning chairman of the Budget Committee whose profile rose enormously during his vice presidential run, is asking colleagues to back Price.
McMorris Rodgers is the highest ranked woman in the House Republican conference, and a loyal leadership ally who has earned their trust as the conference’s vice-chair. A surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential run, she isn’t known as a hard-line ideologue but has cultivated a conservative voting record in recent years.
Price, meanwhile, is the favorite of the GOP’s conservative wing. A former chairman of the deeply conservative Republican Study Committee, he has been backed by outgoing conference chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX), who is expected to chair the Banking Committee next year.