Field of GOP zeros vie for leadership positions

The horse race for who will lead the Republicans—and therefore the U.S. House of Representatives—in the next Congress is really more of a dog-and-pony show. Everyone fully expects ranking minority leader John Boehner will become Speaker of the House and his sidekick Eric Cantor will become Majority leader.

But there is some dust kicking up in the jostling over who will become the GOP Conference Chairman. Mike Pence of Indiana was the initial expectation but he dropped out last week, some speculate to run for president in 2012. But Jeb Hensarling of Dallas, Texas, and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota have raced in to fill the chairman’s slot.

Neither Hensarling nor Bachmann is good on LGBT related issues. Both have scored solid zeros on the Human Rights Campaign’s “Congressional Scorecard” for the past two sessions. But Bachmann has the more aggressive anti-gay credentials: As a Minnesota state senator in the mid-2000s, she spearheaded repeated efforts to pass an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage there.

Bachmann, if successful, could also signal a harsher tone against LGBT people, given her association with the more radical Tea Party elements of the Republican Party. But, so far, political observers say the establishment Republicans are backing Hensarling.

The position as GOP Conference Chair is the fourth ranking leadership position in the House—behind the Speaker, the Majority Leader, and the Majority Whip. The Chair helps determine committee assignments and set legislative priorities for House Republicans.

The third leadership position—that of Majority Whip—is the person in charge of making sure Republicans in the House know how to vote the party line and that they do so. Vying for this position is Rep. Kevin McCarthy, in the 22nd District, north of Los Angeles. He, too, has a solid zero score from HRC. Rumor is that another Dallas, Texas, Republican Pete Sessions might challenge him, but given that Sessions has earned a grade of 4 (out of 100) from HRC in the last Congressional session, his chances seem slim in the field of zeros.

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