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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 PerryHouse Republicans ask Amtrak CEO for information on Biden's train trips Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Pa.), Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonHillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns MORE (R-Ohio) and Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceHillicon Valley: Department of Justice sues Google | House Republicans push for tech bias hearing | Biden drawing more Twitter engagement for first time House Republicans push VA for details on recent data breach IRS closes in on final phase of challenging tax season 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 TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE.

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsWhite House science office says Trump ended COVID-19 pandemic as US hits record cases Obama rips Trump's pandemic response: 'He's jealous of COVID's media coverage' The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day 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 JordanHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day McCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments 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 BoehnerBottom line Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE’s old seat, and Hice, a pastor and former conservative talk radio show host.

Scott Wong contributed.