Majority Leader Fights for Post
House Speaker Newt Gingrich's announcement last Friday that he's stepping down set off a struggle for leadership within the GOP hierarchy. While Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) has quickly sewed up the contest to be his successor, some of the outgoing speaker's lieutenants are attempting to fend off challenges for their jobs.
One of the most visible contests is for the majority leader's post, the No. 2 job in the House. The incumbent, Richard K. Armey (Tex.), first secured the spot after he helped the Republicans recapture the majority in 1994. But now he finds himself battling for his job against Reps. Steve Largent (Okla.) and Jennifer Dunn (Wash.).
Largent and Dunn are waging similar campaigns, arguing that the party needs a more telegenic leader who is capable of forging coalitions across the ideologically divided party. Armey, by contrast, has emphasized his record of shepherding bills through the legislative process and building momentum behind proposed policy reforms, on issues such as taxes and education.
While each camp has offered estimates of how many votes it has secured over the past few days, it is difficult to assess where each lawmaker stands, in part because the balloting takes place in secret. Even Armey's staff acknowledges that when incoming Republican members meet next Wednesday to elect their leaders, he may fail to win a majority on the first ballot. That would force a runoff between the two top vote-getters.
Here's a look at the two challengers.
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