Three Republicans battle to succeed Meadows at House Freedom Caucus

Three members of the House Freedom Caucus have jumped into the race to lead the ultra-conservative group next year, several members told The Hill, as Republicans prepare for life in the minority.

The lawmakers who are vying to become chairman are Reps. Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryConservatives ask Barr to lay out Trump's rationale for census question Pennsylvania state official launches Democratic challenge to GOP rep in district carried by Trump Lawmakers push to block pay raises for members of Congress MORE (R-Pa.), Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Conservatives ask Barr to lay out Trump's rationale for census question Democrats push for tougher oversight on student loan market MORE (R-Ohio) and Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Conservatives ask Barr to lay out Trump's rationale for census question GOP moves to block provision banning use of Defense funds for border wall MORE (R-Ga.), according to members. Under current caucus rules, a lawmaker has to serve on the Freedom Caucus board in order to become the chairman.

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The Freedom Caucus, a band of roughly 30 conservative hard-liners, has wielded immense power in the majority by sticking together as a unified voting bloc to bend the party to its will, often demanding legislation that meets its standards. But the group will have significantly less power in the minority, though leaders of the group do have the ear of President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE.

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsLawmakers request documents on DC councilman ethics investigation House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran MORE (R-N.C.), the current chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters Friday that he was indeed planning to pass the baton to someone else next year, despite backing down from a bid to be the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Meadows stepped aside so that Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDOJ, Commerce slam House Dems contempt vote as 'political stunt' White House blasts 'shameful and cynical' Barr, Ross contempt vote House votes to hold Trump Cabinet members Barr, Ross in contempt MORE (R-Ohio), his good friend and fellow conservative ringleader, could become ranking member, sparking speculation that Meadows would opt to keep his title at the Freedom Caucus. Meadows, a top Trump ally, said he wasn't sure what his next move was.

“We have a good tradition of passing it along to new leadership every couple of years. I think we will do that in February,” said Meadows. “I’ve learned that if you hold on to things too long, it’s not good.”

Perry is thought to be the front-runner in the race, with some conservatives suggesting that he was being groomed for the job throughout the year. Perry, a helicopter pilot in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard who fought in the Iraq War, appeared alongside Meadows and Jordan during high-profile immigration negotiations with GOP leadership this summer.

“I believe Perry will get the nod,” one Freedom Caucus member told The Hill.

But Perry faced a tough reelection race this year after redistricting made his district more moderate, so it could be a risky political move to have a such high-profile role atop the conservative caucus.

Perry, however, has repeatedly dismissed the notion that it would impact how he serves in Congress.

“I believe in the things I believe in,” he said earlier this month. “Doesn’t matter where I come from. So why would that change?”

The other contenders in the Freedom Caucus chairmanship race are Davidson, who won former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Amash's critics miss the fact that partisanship is the enemy of compromise A cautionary tale for Justin Amash from someone who knows MORE’s old seat, and Hice, a pastor and former conservative talk radio show host.

Scott Wong contributed.