Leadership Thwarted in Attempt to Impose DeLay Successor

Despite the earlier announcement that David Dreier would fill in for the indicted Tom DeLay as Majority Leader, it turns out that it will instead be Roy Blunt.

Attempt to Pick Successor Is Foiled (WaPo, Sept. 29, A1)

As the legal troubles mounted for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in recent weeks, he and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert talked repeatedly to craft a detailed strategy for the Republican leadership for the day when a long-feared indictment arrived.

DeLay, according to several GOP sources, knew that House rules would give him no choice but to step down immediately. But he made clear to Hastert, his longtime friend and protege, that he was determined to fight the charges and return to power as soon as possible.

What he and Hastert wanted was a timeserver, someone to hold the job but with no ambitions to stay in it. And they had someone in mind. This week, an aide to the speaker quietly approached Rep. David Dreier about his role in a post-DeLay caucus. Dreier, a congenial Californian who has loyally served the GOP leadership as Rules Committee chairman, expressed interest in helping Hastert.

There was one big problem: When DeLay’s indictment was unsealed yesterday, conservatives in the GOP caucus immediately erupted in anger over rumors that the selection of Dreier, whom they regard as too moderate, was being presented as a fait accompli .

As the conservatives met to vent frustrations and plot options, Hastert was changing course in a separate meeting on the second floor of the Capitol. Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.), the majority whip, was making a personal appeal for the promotion. Hastert agreed, forestalling a possible revolt by conservatives, who regard Blunt as one of their own.

The wild day of maneuvering made clear that beneath the image of lockstep discipline in the House — which DeLay himself enforced for years — the GOP caucus is rife with ambitious personalities in not-so-subtle competition. With DeLay sidelined, it will fall largely to Hastert to move President Bush’s agenda and to maintain order among an increasingly restless crowd as the 2006 elections approach.

An interesting dynamic. I’m rather surprised that Hastert, who is well liked and meticulous in the ways of procedure, had not taken care to develop consensus. Word of DeLay’s indictment was known to insiders at least by yesterday afternoon; he had time to take care of this.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Blunt hired one of the consultants who was indicted with DeLay. Good job, Dennis!




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  2. DL says:

    What Leadership?????????????




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  3. Anderson says:

    Blunt hired one of the consultants who was indicted with DeLay. Good job, Dennis!

    Unethical … but heterosexual!




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