It's been no secret, but Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., on Thursday both made it official: They are running against each other to be chair of the House Republican Conference, the No. 4-ranked leadership post.
"I am writing today to ask for your vote to be the next Chairman of the House Republican Conference," writes McMorris Rodgers, in a "Dear Colleague" letter circulated on Thursday to Republican House members.
And in his appeal also sent directly to members, Price writes, "Today, as we begin to look toward a new Congress with new opportunities to put America back on a path to prosperity, I humbly ask for your support for my candidacy to be the next Chairman of the House Republican Conference. Please take a moment to view the following video
Both of them, who are already in House leadership ranks, are vying to move up to a post being vacated by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who is expected to take over the chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee.
Reelected and newly elected GOP colleagues will select their new leaders next week when they return to Washington for the first week of a lame-duck session. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., are all expected to regain their posts without challenge.
But the internal race for conference chair could get interesting. McMorris Rodgers is already the highest ranking woman serving in House GOP leadership, as the current conference vice chair. Boehner and other leaders don't publicly take positions in such internal races. However, one senior House Republican said McMorris Rodgers' as chairwoman would provide the conference something that is seen as needed--a woman in a top leadership role.
Price is the Republican Policy Committee chair--the No. 5 leadership job--and also a former Republican Study Committee chairman seen as having a deep well of support from conservative members of the conference. Price is an orthopedic surgeon, and he also has been a prominent voice on health care issues for his party.
In her letter to members, McMorris Rodgers notes that as the vice chairman of the conference in the last two Congresses, she counts herself "honored to have played a role in communicating our conservative agenda--to build an America that is strong, prosperous, and free." She also notes that, on the political front, "I've helped recruit stellar candidates, raised over $1,000,000 to the NRCC, contributed over $300,000 to candidates, and traveled to 51 Congressional districts in 22 states."
This year, McMorris Rodgers also served as the liaison between Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and House Republicans.
As vice chairman, notes her office in an accompanying news release, McMorris Rodgers led the Conference's successful efforts to expand and improve its use of New Media, such as House Republicans' use of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
In his video, Price takes a personal touch. He tells fellow House Republicans, "Along the way, we have done a lot of listening--to the American people's hopes, dreams, struggles, and needs, and as your Conference Chairman, I will listen to you.
"My most important duty would be to represent you at the leadership table with an informed appreciation for the unique strengths and distinct needs of each individual member and with the enthusiasm that this position requires," he adds.