Politics

House GOP Elects Reps. Stivers, Collins, Smith to Leadership Team

Ryan, McCarthy, Scalise and McMorris Rodgers also win conference support

Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, was elected by his House Republican colleagues to serve as chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee for the 2018 midterm cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Republican Conference on Tuesday moved to keep Speaker Paul D. Ryan and his top leadership team in place for the 115th Congress, while electing three new faces to lower-rung leadership posts. 

The conference elected Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers to chair the National Republican Congressional Committee over Texas’ Roger Williams. The vote, conducted by secret ballot, was 143 to 96. 

“I feel pretty good,” Stivers told Roll Call a few hours before the election. He will succeed Oregon Rep. Greg Walden as the NRCC chairman. 

In the only other contested race, Georgia’s Doug Collins was elected vice chairman of the conference over Bill Flores of Texas. The vote was 170 to 61. 

Collins, who will succeed Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, said he ran to help expand the conference’s messaging and to ensure that members in both red and swing districts can communicate conservative ideas in a way that will resonate with their constituents. 

“What we’re looking for is communication between our members — how they go to the floor, how we actually take the debate and the argument to the Democrats on the floor,” he said. 

Flores told reporters that Collins “ran a great race” and that he’s “fine” with him winning, although the final vote tally was not as close as he would’ve liked. 

As for what’s next for him, the Texas congressman said, “Oh, God’s got a plan. And we’ll find out what it is.”

[NRCC Chair Candidates Seek to Increase Member Input]

Flores, the outgoing chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said he does not believe the vote was a repudiation of his leadership of the conservative caucus. Other members, like Reps. Andy Harris of Maryland and Trent Franks of Arizona, both members of the RSC and the Freedom Caucus, agreed that Flores’ loss was not about how he led the RSC. 

“I think he was a little late getting in the race to be honest with you,” said Harris, who is running against North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker to succeed Flores as RSC chairman. That election is scheduled for Thursday. 

Williams and Flores’ losses are notable given their home-state ties. The Texas delegation is the largest regional voting bloc in the Republican Conference. 

The other new member of the GOP leadership team is Jason Smith of Missouri, who was elected conference secretary by voice vote. Smith will succeed Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, who hopes to chair the Education and the Workforce Committee next year.

Smith said in a statement that he wants to use his new position to “elevate” his colleagues and leverage their expertise. 

“I want to help work with the rest of the Republican Conference and the Trump White House to make sure the many solutions my colleagues have for making America great again are listened to and enacted,” he said. “The more input we have from our diverse conference, the more quickly we can get the government off the back and out of lives of millions of American families, farmers and small business owners.”

[Ryan’s Speakership Appears Safe After GOP Election Sweep]

In a series of voice votes, the conference also backed its top four leaders: Wisconsin’s Ryan as speaker, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington. The House GOP also re-elected Luke Messer of Indiana as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee by voice vote. 

With Jenkins and Foxx both being replaced by men, McMorris Rodgers will be the only woman serving on the GOP leadership team next Congress.

The closed-door conference votes seals the election of the leadership team, except for the speaker. Ryan still needs to get 218 votes during a January floor vote to officially be re-elected.

Before Republicans swept to big election night victories last week, speculation swirled over whether the House conservative wing that frequently opposes leadership would back Ryan for speaker. There was also a feeling that if GOP nominee Donald Trump lost, members would partially blame Ryan, pointing to his tepid support of the Republican standard-bearer.

But Trump’s victory, and the way it helped lift GOP down-ballot candidates, doused any efforts to block Ryan.

“This leadership team is unified. This entire House Republican Conference is unified,” Ryan said after the elections Tuesday, flanked by his new leadership team. “And we are so eager to get to work with our new president-elect to fix America’s pressing problems.”

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