Canton Repository

January 10, 2006

Ney, Ohio lawmakers support Boehner bid

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON - Rep. Bob Ney became one of the first of at least four Ohio lawmakers to line up behind Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Monday as the West Chester lawmaker kicked off his bid for House majority leader.

Boehner, chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, announced Sunday he would vie with Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., for the No. 2 leadership position in the House.

Whether Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, has a preference is unknown as he was unavailable for comment after leaving Monday on a four-day Smithsonian Institution-sponsored trip to Panama. Regula serves as a congressional representative on the Smithsonian Board of Regents.

The struggle between Boehner and Blunt began as soon as Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, revealed Saturday that a widening ethics scandal had forced him to give up his plan to reclaim the position.

DeLay had temporarily stepped down from majority leader in September, as required by House Republican rules, after he was indicted on campaign finance related charges in Texas.

Blunt is considered the front-runner for the post because he has served as acting majority leader in the absence of DeLay. Meanwhile, Blunt has continued to serve as House majority whip, the No. 3 spot he held before DeLay left leadership.

Ney, R-Heath, appeared to be the third Ohio Republican after Reps. Pat Tiberi of Columbus and David L. Hobson of Springfield to announce his support for Boehner.

The majority leader oversees the legislative agenda in the House and works to advance the goals of the majority party.

If chosen, Boehner would become only the second Ohioan to serve as majority leader since the post was created in 1899. Ohio Republican Rep. Nicholas Longworth served as majority leader from 1923 to 1925. Longworth has the further distinction of having a House office building named after him.

Ney was unavailable to discuss his endorsement of Boehner, but a spokesman for the congressman mentioned the obvious “Ohio connection” and added that Ney and Boehner have worked well together.

Hobson is supporting Boehner because he considers him a “very strong leader,” Hobson spokeswoman Sara Perkins said. “He has the ability to work not only with people in his own party but across the aisle as well.”

As chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, Boehner was instrumental in passing the No Child Left Behind legislation in 2001.

As the day wore on, other Republican lawmakers in Ohio began to line up behind Boehner, including Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Dayton.

Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Columbus, is remaining neutral because she serves as chair of the House Republican Conference. The next majority leader will be chosen by the conference, made up of the 231 Republican lawmakers in the House.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., the No. 1 leader in the House, has called a vote for Feb. 2.

At least some Buckeye State lawmakers prefer to keep their options open. Rep. Paul E. Gillmor, R-Old Fort, is waiting to see if any other aspirants join the contest before he makes a decision, a spokesman said.

One congressional staffer said she wouldn’t be surprised if every Ohio Republican, save Pryce, ultimately lines up behind Boehner in a show of statewide unity.