WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the eve of the House Republican leadership elections, supporters of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers are attempting to shore up support for her bid for Republican conference chair by touting, among other qualities, her gender.
A Republican leadership aide said McMorris Rodgers has been reminding colleagues about "her achievements with women's outreach and new media, her conservative credentials, [and] her profile as a young woman" in a last-minute pitch before the leadership elections tomorrow.
McMorris Rodgers has received an unexpectedly vigorous and public challenge from Rep. Tom Price, even as some within the House Republican leadership have attempted to persuade Price to drop his bid.
"There was talk for awhile that Price was looking for a soft landing, especially budget chair, but with Paul Ryan coming back, it didn't work out for him," the aide said. "We're surprised Price is going to go through with the election."
Last week, House Speaker John Boehner, who is backing McMorris Rodgers, offered Price a spot as chairman of the Elected Leadership Council in hopes of avoiding a contested race for conference chair. Price declined.
In general, intraparty battles for leadership positions are not viewed as ideal, and efforts are often made to avoid them.
With the race for conference chair clearly going unresolved heading into the election, Rep. Paul Ryan sent a letter to his House colleagues Tuesday backing Price, who has styled himself as the more conservative option for Republicans in the contest. Ryan previously expressed support for Price over the summer.
Meanwhile, McMorris Rodgers' supporters, who say she has the support of 15 committee chairs, have balked at the suggestion that she is not conservative enough.
"To throw her out essentially for a perception, not a reality, that she's not conservative enough, I think would play into negative feedback the Republican Party is already getting, that it's not a friendly place for women," the aide said.
The race for conference chair has been of particular interest on the Republican side of the aisle, but the Democratic caucus has not been without its own intrigue: Rumors have swirled that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi might step down from her position, a move that would set off a major shuffle within the party's House leadership.