GOP members line up for DeLay's old spot

Jan. 8, 2006 at 7:05 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A battle for the House Republican leadership is under way after Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said he would not seek to regain the position.

DeLay stepped stepped down as House majority leader in the fall after he was indicted on state money laundering charges in Texas.

In letters sent Saturday to fellow House Republicans and Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, DeLay said he supported the call for an election of a new leader, The New York Times reported.

"The job of majority leader and the mandate of the Republican majority are too important to be hamstrung, even for a few months, by personal distractions," DeLay said in the letter to Hastert.

Hastert said Republicans would hold a leadership election after they return for the State of the Union address on Jan. 31.

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who has been filling in for DeLay, began rounding up support by telephone Saturday, the Times said. Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, is expected to announce his own candidacy.

Representatives Mike Pence of Indiana, Mike Rogers of Michigan and Jerry Lewis of California may also throw in their names, the newspaper said.

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