Michele Bachmann ends bid to join GOP leadership

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 9:53 PM

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a favorite of conservative activists around the country, ended her campaign to join the GOP leadership late Wednesday, electing to bow out rather than face near-certain defeat in next week's leadership elections.

Bachmann, the tea party favorite who founded a caucus for the movement in the House earlier this year, announced last week that she would run for leader of the House Republican Conference, a post that ranks fourth in the caucus's leadership.

But key Republican figures both in and out of Congress, including Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), embraced her opponent, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Tex.). Hensarling, like Bachmann, is an ardent conservative, but is not as well-known or as controversial.

"Jeb Hensarling has my enthusiastic support for his candidacy to become Republican House Conference Chair," Bachmann said in a statement. "Jeb has demonstrated his commitment to limited government, reduced spending and lower taxes, and he will be a strong voice for the Tea Party's call for these values."

Hensarling, in a statement, called Bachmann "a dear friend" and said, "I am humbled to earn her support."

Bachmann's concession allows party leaders to avoid a complicated situation. They had faced the prospect of dealing with not only a tea party favorite, but also a woman vying to enter a GOP leadership made up mostly of men.

Both parties' leadership elections are scheduled for next week, but the top four GOP slots are effectively decided now, as John A. Boehner will be tapped for speaker of the House, Cantor for majority leader and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) for majority whip.

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