U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville. (TOM WILLIAMS/AP)
Photo: Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Photo: Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Georgia congressman considers bid to lead influential conservative group

The sophomore congressman is one of a handful of GOP House members weighing a bid to chair the Republican Study Committee next year, the Hill newspaper reports

The caucus is the largest on Capitol Hill, counting roughly two-thirds of the House GOP as its members, including nine of Georgia’s 10 Republicans. 

The Georgia delegation has been active in the policy group’s leadership in recent years. 

Tom Price led the RSC from 2009 to 2010, and Rob Woodall briefly took over the chairmanship in 2014 after Steve Scalise stepped down to serve in the party leadership. Ranger Republican Tom Graves had initially been seen as a favorite to lead the group in 2012 -- the then-second term lawmaker had been endorsed by the RSC’s founders and past chairmen but was ultimately outmaneuvered by Scalise that year.

The RSC once represented the House GOP’s most conservative flank but has largely been edged out by the Freedom Caucus in recent years. There is some overlap between the two groups -- Georgia’s Jody Hice is a member of both. Loudermilk for a time was also a double member, but he quietly left the Freedom Caucus last year, saying he wanted to focus on his position on the RSC’s steering committee. 

Loudermilk, who has endured a personally traumatic year, told the Hill that he could be a bridge between the two groups. 

“I want to see us continue in that area to uphold our strong conservative values but understand that a field goal or first down is often better than a Hail Mary pass,” he said. 

The Hill reports that Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, Roger Williams of Texas, Jim Banks of Indiana and Mike Johnson of Louisiana have also expressed interest to lead the RSC. 

Georgia’s congressional delegation has recently looked to rebuild its clout after losing more than 70 years of institutional knowledge in 2014, when several lawmakers retired or lost their bids for higher office. 

The state’s younger Republican lawmakers have angled for plum committee assignments over the last year, while some of their more senior colleagues have laid the groundwork for pursuing committee chairmanships in the upcoming Congress: 

  • Graves is quietly running to be chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which is tasked with funding the government each year
  • Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, wants to lead the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over a broad set of hot-button issues, including immigration, voting rights and guns. It would also be ground zero for impeachment proceedings should Democrats win control of the House and seek to remove President Donald Trump 
  • The delegation’s two newest Republican members, Karen Handel and Drew Ferguson, have mounted efforts to join the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Meanwhile, Rick Allen of Evans has sought a second Georgia seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care, energy and technology issues. 
  • If Democrats win control of the House, David Scott of Atlanta could be in position to take over as his party’s top lawmaker on the Agriculture Committee. Hank Johnson, Sanford Bishop and Johnson Lewis also have senior positions on the Judiciary, Appropriations and Ways and Means panels. 
Channel 2 hosted Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp at the debate.

Insiders note: This story was ripped and expanded from today’s morning Jolt

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is a senior reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's enterprise team, where she covers women in society, LGBTQ issues, the urban-rural...