Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ seemingly-inevitable promotion to the No. 4 slot in the U.S. House of Representatives hit last-minute turbulence Tuesday when Rep. Paul Ryan threw a high-profile endorsement behind her rival.
Ryan, the erstwhile vice presidential candidate, is backing Rep. Tom Price of Georgia as chair of the House Republican Conference. That’s the same job Spokane’s McMorris Rodgers is trying to move up to from her current post as vice chair.
Ryan’s move injected a dose of competition to what had appeared to be a certain victory for McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking GOP female in Congress. She has garnered support from House Speaker John Boehner and at least seven committee chairmen, including Darrell Issa of California and Fred Upton of Michigan.
Ryan has reason to endorse Price. Ryan wants to return as chair of the House Budget Committee, a job Price was running for in the event that Ryan and Mitt Romney moved into the White House. (Ryan will have to get a term-limit waiver from Boehner and the rest of the House Republican leadership to serve another two years on the budget panel.)
Price also is favored by two key conservative Republicans, Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Mike Pence of Indiana. Hensarling co chaired the bipartisan deficit-reduction “super committee” with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.
The secret-ballot election will be held Wednesday.