Rep. Jeb Hensarling is the leading candidate to succeed House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana, but the Texas Republican is no pillar of the Washington GOP Establishment, according to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.
Speaking earlier today on ABC News, Armey, who is currently chairman of Freedomworks and a key leader in the Tea Party movement, offered these thoughts on Hensarling:
“Let me say, first of all. I think we’ve got a really good leadership team and quite frankly, I was surprised to hear you characterize Jeb Hensarling as an establishment guy,” Armey said.
“This is a candidate that gave opposition in deeply analytical terms to TARP and to the banking reform bill. He’s got a very bright mind and the reason he was on the TARP Commission, was he was the best voice in opposition to it,” he said.
“So, the fact is, this is not an insider. This is not an establishment guy. He’s a very bright and able person.”
Speaking of Pence, he has endorsed Hensarling's bid to succeed him:
“Jeb Hensarling is not only one of my dearest friends, he is one of the most principled conservatives in Congress. Jeb Hensarling has shown the courage of his conservative convictions throughout his career in Congress. During his years as chairman of the House conservative caucus, the Republican Study Committee, Jeb Hensarling demonstrated his willingness to challenge Republican leaders and members to embrace a vision for limited government, fiscal discipline and traditional moral values. I heartily endorse Jeb Hensarling for House Republican Conference Chairman.”
UPDATE: Rep. Paul “Roadmap for America” Ryan boosts Hensarling
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is circulating a colleague letter in support of Hensarling:
“Jeb's economic expertise and strong ability to communicate are what we need in our Conference Chairman to articulate our unified commitment to get our country back on track. This position requires someone who has a command of these issues and has a history of successfully debating them.”
Ryan's endorsement is significant, though not surprising. Ryan is the ranking minority member on the House Budget Committee and has worked closely with Hensarling, who is second GOPer in line on the panel. Ryan is expected to succeed Rep. John Spratt, D-SC, in the chairmanship when the new Congress convenes in January.
Spratt, by the way, lost his re-election bid in Tuesday's shellacking of congressional Democrats. He has served in the House since 1982.