A pair of influential Republicans backed Rep. Tom Price for House majority leader on Monday, dealing a blow to other conservatives vying for the leadership position.
By Monday evening, potential rival for the post – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington – announced she was out of the running. McMorris Rodgers currently serves as the No. 4 Republican in House leadership.
The moves come as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy locks down support in the speaker’s race, kicking off jockeying for his current leadership post.
House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan endorsed his “good friend” Price in a statement out Monday, just hours after Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling decided against a bid and instead backed the Price, a Georgia Republican.
“Tom has a proven record of advancing conservative solutions and principles. He has the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective majority leader, and I’m proud to support him,” Ryan said.
The back-to-back endorsements were bad news for Rodgers and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana who both had been in the running for the position.
McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking woman in House Republican leadership, decided against running for the No. 2 slot on Monday night.
Though she hadn’t formally declared she was running for the job, McMorris Rodgers had started making calls seeking support soon after House Speaker John Boehner surprised the political world and fellow members with the news he was resigning on Friday.
But in a crowded field against the current third-ranked House Republican in Scalise and Price, the powerful budget committee chairman, the Washington State Republican decided to not continue in the contest.
“The best way right now for me to empower my colleagues through positive change is to remain conference chair,” McMorris Rodgers said in a written statement.
Price earned the endorsement of Hensarling after the Texas Republican engaged in “prayerful consideration,” his spokeswoman said.
Price developed a reputation as a fiscal conservative shortly after he was first elected in 2002. He was picked to lead the conservative Republican Study Committee in 2006, a group of House Republicans who gained greater prominence following the tea party wave of 2010.