Pryce busy in the face of possible challenge

As a race to replace her has loomed larger this month, GOP Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) has been exceedingly busy.

Under her direction, the conference is scheduled today to hold its fifth conference call of the month, this time so that members can ask the White House about the Medicare prescription-drug benefit and share feedback about the controversial drug plan, conference spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel said yesterday.

Gen. George Casey, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, briefed members yesterday during an hour-long conference call about progress in Iraq since the elections last year.

Previous conference calls have focused on economic messages, lobbying reform and the process for leadership elections after the decision by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) not to try to regain his leadership post.

The conference is finalizing details for next week’s leadership election as at least one member, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), considers a race to replace Pryce. Vice Chairman Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), a Pryce backer who might run if a race opens up, yesterday circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter introducing his American Renewal Project, a list of voter concerns he hopes the House can address.

The Republican Conference office will host a radio and bloggers row next week with conservative pundit Armstrong Williams, who was paid by the administration to tout No Child Left Behind.

Pryce is expected to appear on the “Oprah” TV show with Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) to discuss sex trafficking.