Bachmann drops bid for conference post, backs Hensarling

Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) dropped her bid to become the House GOP conference chairwoman late Wednesday.

Bachmann, a darling of the Tea Party movement, ended her weeklong run against fellow conservative Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) after it became apparent that Hensarling had the votes to win the leadership election.

Bachmann was quick to endorse Hensarling, whom her supporters had painted as the "establishment" candidate in the race to be the fourth-ranking House Republican in the 112th Congress.

“Jeb Hensarling has my enthusiastic support for his candidacy to become Republican House Conference chair. Jeb has demonstrated his commitment to limited government, reduced spending and lower taxes and he will be a strong voice for the Tea Party’s call for these values," Bachmann said in a statement released late Wednesday.

Bachmann said that she spoke with the presumptive Speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), and "other members of leadership," and is "convinced they will wholeheartedly work toward the issues the American people are calling for, such as fiscal responsibility, ending the bailouts and repealing ObamaCare.”

Hensarling responded to Bachmann's announcement in short order.

In a statement, he called Bachmann a "committed movement conservative whose effective voice played an important role in America’s decision to trust House Republicans once again. She is a dear friend, and I am humbled to earn her support. I look forward to her energetic leadership in a united House Republican Conference during the 112th Congress." 

The end of Bachmann's bid for the position clears the way for relatively painless GOP leadership elections next week.

At this point, only the GOP Policy Committee chairmanship is contested. Reps. Tom Price (Ga.) and Connie Mack (Fla.) are running for the position, currently held by Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter.

But as it stands, the rest of the leadership positions are uncontested.

Boehner is up for Speaker, Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.) for House majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) for majority whip, Hensarling for conference chairman, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) for conference vice chairwoman, Rep. John Carter (Texas) for conference secretary and Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas) for National Republican Congressional Committee chairman.