Jan 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Race to lead NRCC kicks off

Reps. Darin LaHood and Richard Hudson are seen side-by-side in a photo array.

Reps. Darin LaHood (left) and Richard Hudson. Photos: Al Drago/Getty Images (LaHood) and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Reps. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) are both telling colleagues they plan to run for chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2024 cycle, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are confident they'll win the House majority back this fall, and the early jockeying to lead the caucus' fundraising apparatus is just another indicator of their optimism.

  • It also speaks to the ambition of Hudson and LaHood to climb their party’s leadership ladder.
  • Both used last weekend’s NRCC winter retreat at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne, Florida, to sound out colleagues — and donors — about how they can best position themselves to win.
  • Both LaHood and Hudson have been on the NRCC finance committee and understand the importance of raising money for the committee.

The big picture: During the donor retreat, House Republicans have been poring over optimistic polling and developing methodical plans to wield power if House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is elevated to House speaker.

  • The GOP needs to flip five seats in the midterms to win control of the House, a task made easier by a wave of Democratic retirements over the past year.
  • Redistricting hasn’t been as favorable for Republicans as many of them had hoped, but they look at an incumbent president with his approval ratings in the low 40s and like their odds of recapturing the House.
  • And the successor to the current NRCC chair, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), will step into a party apparatus that's ramped up its targeted advertising and grassroots fundraising strategies.

Between the lines: Emmer himself hasn’t ruled out running the committee for a third term, but he’s likely to make a run to be House Republican whip, the No. 3 position for the majority party.

  • He's expected to be joined in the contest by other lawmakers, including Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).
  • Just as McCarthy anticipates becoming speaker, the current minority whip, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), plans to move up a notch to majority leader if Republicans regain the House.

What they're saying: Hudson spokesperson Greg Steele told Axios the congressman "is focused on serving his constituents, introducing himself to a new district and his job of conference secretary helping to retake the majority."

  • He said there'll be plenty of time to "discuss his continued leadership in the future.”
  • LaHood spokesperson John Rauber said, "Rep. LaHood is solely focused on helping Republicans, through his role as NRCC finance chair, to take back the House in 2022 and fire Speaker Pelosi for good."

Go deeper: Republicans enter 2022 flush with cash.

  • The NRCC raised $140 million during 2021, and $17.9 million in December alone, setting a new record for the committee's off-year fundraising.
  • The Congressional Leadership Fund and American Action Network, pro-Republican super PACS that can raise unlimited dollars, also pulled in a combined $110 million last year.
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