Friday, December 14, 2001

Boehner shuns race for House majority leader

By Derrick DePledge
Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday that he would not run for House majority leader next year and instead would concentrate on his work as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

        Speaking after the House approved a sweeping education reform package, Mr. Boehner, who led complicated negotiations on the bill, said he did not believe a contested leadership fight would be good for the Republican Party.

        “There's a lot of work before our committee next year. The reauthorization of the special education bill will take a massive amount of work. I could not have had a more enjoyable year, and I think this is where I can best serve my colleagues,” Mr. Boehner said.

        “It's no secret that I have long sought a position in the senior levels of our leadership,” he said. “If that opportunity presents itself in the future, I will avail myself of it.”

        House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, announced Wednesday that he would retire after the 2002 congressional session. Congressional sources and colleagues initially named Mr. Boehner and Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, as potential replacements for Mr. Armey, but both now have taken themselves out of contention. Mr. Portman announced his decision publicly Wednesday.

        House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has indicated that he would run for majority leader if Republicans keep control of the House after the 2002 elections. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., likely would run for majority whip.

        Mr. Boehner said his “gut instincts” told him now was not the right time to run for majority leader. Asked whether he might change his mind over the next year, he said, “We never know what's going to happen.”


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