U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) tears a page from the national health care bill during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol March 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON -- As Republicans mull how to focus the party's long-term strategy following the November election, a hard-fought contest is brewing between Reps. Tom Price of Georgia and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington for U.S. House Republican's fourth-most-senior position. The group votes Wednesday on its leadership for the next two years and the choice of Price or McMorris Rodgers could provide an early indication of where the party is headed, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper says that while most of the top slots are all but assured - including Ohio Rep. John Boehner's re-election as speaker - the winner of the contest between Price and McMorris Rodgers is less certain. Both have strong support from fellow House members.
The paper says of the lawmakers:
Price, 58, is a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a powerful group of House conservatives who often pull the party's leadership to the right. First elected in 2004, he emerged from the party's longstanding power base.
McMorris Rodgers, 43, is also a conservative. But as a young mother from the Northwest, she fits a profile that is rarer for the GOP and that House members might find appealing after an election in which the party struggled to attract female voters.
The outcome will be "a big deal," John Feehery, a onetime aide to former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, told the WSJ.
Said Feehery, "From the Republican standpoint, it will give you a sense that Republicans want to get a broader base or that they want to consolidate their conservative base. That will give you a sense of where the members are: Are they worried that they are not diverse enough, or are they worried they are not conservative enough?"