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Blunt says he has votes to succeed DeLay

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says he has enough votes from House Republicans to succeed Rep. Tom DeLay as majority leader.

Blunt said in a statement Saturday that more than half of House Republicans had agreed to support him in his bid to replace Tom DeLay, who stepped down last fall after his indictment in Texas, The New York Times reported.

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But his rivals for the position, Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio and Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona, are not ready to concede.

"This will be a long campaign, leading up to a secret ballot election," Boehner said in a statement.

Shadegg, who entered the race on Friday, said he had already cut into Blunt's support. "We already have defections from the Blunt list and we expect more," he said in a statement. "Vote counts in this sort of race are notoriously inaccurate. I am in this race to the finish."

Blunt said he had commitments from more than 117 lawmakers.

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