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Sunday, April 18, 2021

GOP faces strong crop of new contenders to chair committee as Pete Sessions bows out

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Rep. Pete Sessions will have plenty of competition for the powerful chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee, a position that allows him to lead a successful campaign and raise money for House Republican candidates. But Republicans see Sessions, head of the Republicans’ House campaign arm, as a clear leader for the 2020 elections, creating the potential for an insurgency.

(A photo of Sessions was taken in January of 1990, the year that the Democratic takeover of the Senate was finally at hand.)

The NRCC chairman will play a leading role in 2020, and beyond. His or her name will be on billboards and stickers, coming up on TV, in ads, door knocking and fundraising. And the chairman of the NRCC will be the most visible representative of the GOP in the media.

At the top of the Republican leadership’s wish list for the chairmanship is a younger chair with a fresh take on politics. John Ashcroft, the 70-year-old vice chairman, and Joe Neguse, who is serving as NRCC vice chairman, are just two examples of that.

“You can’t run, say, Bob Corker and try to raise money the same way he ran the race,” said one Republican who has worked closely with Reps. Steve Stivers, Steny Hoyer and Kevin McCarthy, a member of the Democratic leadership, in recent years. “You have to figure out new ways of fundraising, new ways of getting on television — all of which Pete Sessions has been superb at.”

In their quest for the NRCC chairmanship, this Republican suggested that “The kid is next” is shorthand for Fred Upton.

“There’s a lot of young blood in the party. So it’s going to be Pete Sessions, and then after that, it’s Fred Upton, a tremendous veteran and better fundraiser,” this Republican said. “But what we’re trying to move into is the next generation.”

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