Under the Dome

A third candidate emerges for House Republican leader

The House GOP power struggle is becoming more intriguing as a third candidate emerged for Republican majority leader: Rep. Edgar Starnes.

Starnes, a nine-term lawmaker and committee chairman from Hickory, said he is seeking the post regardless of whether the Republican caucus decides to split the job -- as it will discuss in Saturday's meeting.

If it is split, Starnes said he would make a bid for the day-to-day operations role, managing the caucus and running the Republican agenda on the floor.

"I've seen a lot of leaders come and a lot of leaders go and I think I have an idea of what the caucus needs and I think that my leadership style will best suit the members," he said in an interview Wednesday.

Two other prominent Republican lawmakers are seeking the majority leader post: Ruth Samuelson, the current majority whip, and David Lewis, a committee chairman and Republican National Committeeman. Samuelson wants to run the big-picture end of the job and Lewis the operations end, setting up a possible contest with Starnes if the job is split.

Starnes is considered among the more conservative members of the chamber. The caucus "needs a leader that doesn't go in with his own agenda but who will listen to the members and promote the caucus agenda.

As for the plan to split the majority leader job -- whic is drawing a mixed reaction from rank-and-file Republicans -- Starnes said "he is reserving comment on that until I see what happens on Saturday."

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