Chaffetz pitches Gowdy for GOP leader

Chaffetz pitches Gowdy for GOP leader

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah) is urging Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears Tim Scott invokes Breonna Taylor, George Floyd in Trump convention speech Sunday shows preview: Republicans gear up for national convention, USPS debate continues in Washington MORE (R-S.C.) to run for majority leader — a move that would complicate an already tough contest between two red-state conservatives.

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"Trey Gowdy is the best person to unite our conference and articulate the Republican message," Chaffetz wrote in an email to The Hill Tuesday morning. "He is widely trusted and beloved in our conference."

Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) are already in the race to succeed incumbent Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) if he is elected the next Speaker of the House.

Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) bowed out of the race for majority leader on Monday night.

Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor who was swept into Congress in the 2010 Tea Party wave election, would be a polarizing leader in a presidential election year.

He is chairman of the special House committee that is investigating the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya and has expanded the probe to include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails.

She will testify before his committee in a public hearing next month.

Chaffetz said he has recently spoken to Gowdy, who is open to running for the No. 2 job in leadership. "I actually think he'll do it if we get behind it and support it," Chaffetz said on Fox News Tuesday morning. "But I think Trey Gowdy as the majority leader would be heaven sent."

After Chaffetz's appearance on Fox, another Utah Republican, Rep. Mia Love, said she also was on Team Gowdy.

One conservative lawmaker said he believes Gowdy is making moves to mount a campaign for leader. But the lawmaker warned that a Gowdy bid sounds like a strategy hatched by McCarthy.

"I think it is a McCarthy ploy to surround himself with somebody who the base likes but who is no threat to McCarthy," the conservative lawmaker wrote in a text message.

"I could back [Gowdy] for Speaker. As majority leader, he would be a pawn of leadership."

— This report was updated at 8:19 a.m.