Freshman to run for Republican Study Committee chairmanship

Freshman Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) is running to be chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest faction of conservatives in the House GOP conference, in the next Congress.

Walker formally announced his candidacy in a Tuesday letter to colleagues obtained by The Hill. No other candidates are officially in the race yet to replace incumbent RSC Chairman Bill Flores (R-Texas).

{mosads}“Watching this year’s elections and listening to the pundits, many would have you think that conservatism is in decline. After decades of advancement, some suggest the movement — having reached maturity — is now stale and approaching the end of its life-cycle.

“I don’t buy it. I believe there has never been a better time for a bold, conservative vision for America. I am also convinced the Republican Study Committee (RSC) is uniquely positioned and fully capable to deliver that vision and jumpstart a conservative revival,” Walker wrote in the letter.

Despite only being in his first term, Walker says he’s already getting a lot of support from colleagues for his candidacy. Walker is a relative newcomer to politics as well: He had never held elected office before his election in 2014 to the House.

Two fellow members of the North Carolina delegation, Reps. Richard Hudson and Virginia Foxx, are publicly backing Walker. Other freshmen like Reps. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) and Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) are also on board.

RSC chairman candidates will meet with the group’s founders on Sept. 13. The election for RSC leader will take place on Nov. 17.

Lawmakers who want to vote in the RSC chairman election will have to renew their memberships first, which cost $5,000.

Walker touted his background as a Baptist minister for more than 15 years as evidence of his ability to build coalitions.

“Serving almost two decades in vocational ministry is surprisingly applicable training for Congress,” he wrote.

“As a minister, one must learn to navigate waters in a constantly changing environment and stay focused on higher objections, knowing you may not always please every individual. My years of listening and working to bridge factions around a shared interest is invaluable experience.”

Walker says one priority if he were elected RSC chairman would be to coordinate better with conservative advocacy groups to ensure all parties are on the same page.

“It will be my aim to raise the volume of RSC’s conservative voice and to lead outside groups and organizations to rally around our message,” Walker wrote.

The House GOP conference has divided into three major factions over the last year: the RSC, the centrist Tuesday Group and the far-right Freedom Caucus.

The RSC is the largest of the groups, with 178 members, which comprises more than 70 percent of the entire 247-member House GOP conference.

Its large membership is one of the main reasons the Freedom Caucus was formed last year, because some conservatives felt that the RSC wasn’t selective enough anymore.

The roughly 40-member Freedom Caucus has a more rigorous process for allowing new people into its ranks and tends to clash publicly with GOP leadership. The RSC, meanwhile, has had a more behind-the-scenes role in recent years.

Many Freedom Caucus members have remained in the RSC over the last year, though some say that they won’t be renewing their memberships in the next Congress, which starts in January.

Tags Bill Flores Republican Study Committee Virginia Foxx

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