By Jim Ellis
Nov. 16, 2016 — Though the media has obsessed over stories about internal Republican skirmishes for the past four years, the House GOP Conference came together yesterday in a strong show of unity just as the Democrats begin to see division in their own ranks.
In the GOP leadership elections, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) was re-nominated for the House’s top post without opposition, with his re-election bid seconded by the congressional liaison to the incoming Trump Administration, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-27).
The other incumbent party leaders, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA-1), and Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5) were also re-elected without opposition, all enjoying at least tacit support from the president-elect.
In the major contested internal battle, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) claimed the National Republican Congressional Committee chairmanship with a 60 percent victory over Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX-25). Stivers replaces Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-2), who was ineligible to seek a third term in the position.
The many leadership incumbents winning with unanimous backing suggest a possible new coming era of cooperation within the Republican House, now that moving significant legislation through Congress is actually a realistic possibility.
On the other hand, the Democrats could be headed for a period of disarray. While the Republican elections were transpiring, the Democratic conference was simultaneously voting to postpone their own leadership elections to after Thanksgiving, in what is being viewed as a distinct defeat for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12). Like the Republicans who voted immediately upon returning for the lame duck session, Pelosi’s desire was to hold the party hierarchy elections this week.
Speculation is now surfacing that Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) may challenge Pelosi for leader. Ryan’s name comes up frequently as a potential statewide candidate in Ohio, for Senate, governor, and lieutenant governor, but he has yet to risk his safe Youngstown-anchored congressional seat to attempt securing any other office.
Therefore, it would not be surprising to also see him back away from a challenge to his own conference leader, an individual who has held the top Democratic House position since the beginning of 2003, including four years as the speaker. But, the postponement development certainly brings intrigue to the Democratic elections, which will most likely be conducted on or around Nov. 30.