Next week, Senate Republicans will vote to elect a new Conference Vice Chairman, a position that is considered to be the Number 5 GOP leadership post. As was the case at the start of the new Congress, when committee chairmanships often pitted establishment Republicans against the more conservative among them, the choice will be between one senator with strong tea party support, and another who has been a Washington “insider” for 15 years.
Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) were both elected to the Senate in 2010. Sen. Johnson was elected with the strong backing of the tea party and conservative Senate recruiter, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S. Carolina). Sen. Blunt spent 14 years in the House of Representatives prior to his election to the Senate.
Now, both Senators have dismissed the idea that their contest is about the old guard GOP versus true conservatives. Sen. Johnson, in particular, notes that he believes his years of business experience, prior to his election to the Senate, are what cause him to stand out as a candidate for the vice chairman’s position. “I also bring the perspective of somebody from the outside — somebody totally foreign to Washington, and that’s a very valuable perspective,” he said.
Nevertheless, it is the way in which the contest between the two senators came about that has perhaps created a bit more tension. According to RedState, up until this week, Sen. Johnson was the only candidate for the vice chairman’s position, and the election was scheduled for January. However, Sen. Blunt announced his candidacy on Tuesday of this week, an action which was followed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) decisions to move up the election to next week, rather than January, and to begin a supportive campaign for Sen. Blunt.
Conservative Republicans will need the strength of the vice chairman’s post to bring about the reforms needed in the country. Sen. Johnson has not only stuck to the principles he put forward when he ran for the Senate, but he is also known as a bridge builder between conservatives and establishment Republicans- something years of business experience has taught him.
About the two Senate candidates, Sen. DeMint said, “Roy is a friend of mine, but Ron Johnson is what I consider the right face for the Republican Party. He’s a nonpolitician, business guy, reform-minded.”
If you have a Republican Senator, think about calling him or her to speak about this important vote.