Delay Republican leadership elections, say Reps. Bachmann, King

Greg Nash

Two House conservatives are calling for the Republican leadership contest to be delayed.

Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said Thursday that the June 19 leadership election should be postponed so that the GOP conference can field a candidate who does not support “amnesty.”

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“We don't have the lineup of conservative, rule of law candidates in place. So we're asking for a delay in this vote so there's time for the conference to come to its senses and evaluate all of the opportunities that we have going forward,” King said just off the House floor.

The call comes as House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appears to be solidifying support in the majority leader race.

McCarthy’s only opponent is Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a favorite of conservatives, said Thursday he would not run for majority leader.

King and Bachmann said they are still rounding up support from other conservatives to urge that the election be postponed. They say McCarthy and Sessions are too supportive of immigration reform for their taste.

“In all of the leadership positions that are here, I will not vote in the affirmative for any candidate who has advocated for amnesty,” King said. 

“We need to delay these elections so that we can actually field a candidate who's not for amnesty. That was the result of the election in Eric Cantor's district,” Bachmann said.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was defeated in a GOP primary on Tuesday and said Wednesday he would step down from leadership.

Both King and Bachmann expressed disappointment that Hensarling decided to forgo a bid for majority leader. King said that he would like to see Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) reconsider a run.

"I'd like to see Jim Jordan reconsider this," King said. "I think that his record is rock solid on all of these issues."

Asked by The Hill on Wednesday if he would be interested in any leadership slot —majority leader, majority whip, deputy whip — Jordan smiled and shook his head “no” at each suggestion.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who will be supporting McCarthy for majority leader, dismissed conservatives' rejection of the leadership candidates. 

“To try and say that I'm not a conservative, and 'Oh but we really are' is ridiculous," Nunes said.

Nunes said that conservatives' inability to rally around one candidate demonstrated impracticality.

“They don't have candidates, they just come out here to you guys and complain,” Nunes told reporters. “But when it's time to actually raise money and go recruit candidates and win elections so that you can to stop Obama, which is what they say they want to do, they don't have the capability of doing it.”