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House Leadership Contests End With Unexpected Victors

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House Leadership Contests End With Unexpected Victors

 

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Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) will serve as the next Speaker of the House after emerging as a compromise candidate.

 

Washington D.C. - Leadership contests on both sides of the aisle in the House have come to an end with unexpected results. Republicans and Democrats both found themselves without initial frontrunners as each respective caucus promoted their own individual candidates. After hours of gridlock within both caucuses, unlikely candidates emerged as the next leaders of the House of Representatives. 

 

Republicans have found a leader in the form of Pete Sessions (R-TX) to serve as the next Speaker of the House. A surprisingly strong campaign by Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA), with the reported backing of former Senate Majority Leader Diego Zamora, led to no candidate receiving a majority of the vote within the Republican House Caucus. Both outgoing House Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) stepped down from contention after worries of a Dent Speakership grew among conservatives and the split vote between Conservatives and Establishment Republicans could hand the Speakership to the Moderates. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) entered the race with the reported backing of RNC Chairwoman Caroline Jefferson as a compromise candidate but was hampered by the candidacy of Liberty Caucus Chairman Justin Amash (R-MI), who jumped in at the urging of Wyoming Senator Bob Smith. The similar split among conservatives resulted in Dent edging closer towards gaining a majority of the vote within the caucus as the establishment vote split for Dent. While a Dent Speakership appeared potentially inevitable, backroom dealings between the conservative and establishment caucuses led to an unofficial agreement to back a compromise candidate. At the urging of Pennsylvania Senator Elias Richmond, Congressman Pete Sessions emerged as the candidate that united the Conservatives and enough Establishment Republicans to give him a narrow majority over Charlie Dent. Not all was lost for Congressman Dent as he gained enough support to become the next House Majority Leader, facing only Justin Amash for the coveted position. Marsha Blackburn was unopposed in her bid to become the next House Majority Whip and the highest ranking female in the Republican House Caucus.

 

Democrats faced a similarly contentious leadership contest with all three initial candidates failing to gain traction outside of their respective caucuses. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Tim Ryan (D-OH) all stepped down from consideration following a deadlock in the contest. Progressives were quick to mobilize behind Barbara Lee (D-CA) for Minority Leader and Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA) as Minority Whip. Their candidacies were supported openly by Illinois Senator Gabriel Gonzalez and reportedly by New York Senator Osiris Storm. Establishment and Blue Dog forces in the House looked to a compromise candidate that could hold the factions together as Blue Dogs and some Establishment politicians openly objected to the candidacy of Congresswoman Lee as too far-left. Linda Sanchez emerged as the candidate with the backing of both factions and enough moderate Progressives to win the contest. Reports indicate that Senate Majority Leader Lewis Clayborne pushed for the candidacy of Mrs. Sanchez but it was the intervention of President Harrison LeClavers that put support for her candidacy over the top. A meeting between Sanchez and Lee allowed for Linda Sanchez to become the House Minority Leader and Barbara Lee as the next House Minority Whip. Linda Sanchez is the highest ranking woman of color in the House of Representatives and the first woman of color to serve as the head of a House Caucus leadership. Sanchez and Lee also mark the first time that two women have held the top two positions in the leadership of a House Caucus concurrently.

 

The biggest story of the night has been the President's decision to weigh in on the leadership contest of the House Democrat Caucus with progressives outraged by his decision to not back their candidate. The Congressional Progressive Caucus and Senator Gabriel Gonzalez have both criticized the efforts by the President as an overreach of his authority within the Democratic Party. Progressives within the House Democratic Caucus have also expressed their displeasure over the President's decision. Republicans are also curious to see how Pete Sessions and Marsha Blackburn will work with Charlie Dent considering their ideological differences. Dent's narrow loss in the Speakership contest and ascendancy to House Majority Leader indicates a growing influence of the Moderate Faction within the House Republican Caucus as conservatives continue to express skepticism to his newfound position as floor leader. 

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