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 PerryEx-Trump aide to tell Congress she objected to Ukrainian ambassador's removal: report Ex-Ukraine ambassador arrives to give testimony GOP, Trump look to smother impeachment inquiry MORE (R-Pa.), Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonFinancial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more Conservatives call on Pelosi to cancel August recess GOP leaders struggle to contain conservative anger over budget deal MORE (R-Ohio) and Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Trump's impeachment plea to Republicans The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's impeachment jeopardy deepens GOP lawmakers, states back gunmaker in Sandy Hook appeal 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 TrumpTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE.

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMulvaney faces uncertain future after public gaffes Testimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense Obama: Cummings showed us 'the importance of checks and balances' 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 JordanTrump urges GOP to fight for him Trump embarks on Twitter spree amid impeachment inquiry, Syria outrage Testimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense 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 BoehnerIs Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader MORE’s old seat, and Hice, a pastor and former conservative talk radio show host.

Scott Wong contributed.