Michele Bachmann Doesn't Want to Be GOP Conference Chair After All

How much of a voice will the Tea Party have in the House?

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On Wednesday, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann withdrew her bid to become the House GOP Conference chair, the fourth-highest post in the Republican House leadership. Bachmann had announced her interest in the job a week ago, but has now ceded the race to Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas. Since Bachmann has been a vocal advocate of the Tea Party agenda, and Hensarling belongs to the establishment arm of the GOP, analysts are making guesses as to what Bachmann's withdrawal says about the currents of party power.

  • GOP Avoids Ugly Infighting  "House Republicans dodged another potentially damaging leadership fight," reports The Wall Street Journal, saying that Bachmann's announcement "means Republicans avoid an internal election that threatened to alienate tea party activists who helped the party regain its majority in the House." Meanwhile, "as Republicans side-step divisive leadership fights, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to pursue a bid for minority leader has some colleagues fuming after the party lost at least 60 seats in the House."

  • It's Hard Out Here for a Tea Partier  Politico's Jake Sherman writes that Bachmann's short-lived campaign for Conference chair "serves to illustrate the headwinds a tea party candidate could face in official Washington. Hensarling worked hard to show he was the true conservative in the race and that he was a tea party sympathizer. But Hensarling also played the insider game effectively, rounding up and announcing key endorsements day after day to send the message that the had the race locked up."

  • Anyone Surprised?  "Scores of Republicans revealed that they don't want to put their most extreme face forward," writes Avi Zenilman at New York Magazine. Hensarling "has a similarly conservative bent" as Bachmann, "but is less prone to saying things like Democrats should be investigated for 'Un-American' activities."

  • Bachmann: Tea Will Still Have a Voice  ABC News quotes Bachmann as saying, "I plan to advance the Tea Party ideals through their listening arm, the Tea Party Caucus ... The new Congress will have great opportunities to lead our country into the direction our founders intended. I spoke with Mr. Boehner and other members of leadership and I am convinced they will wholeheartedly work towards the issues the American people are calling for such as fiscal responsibility, ending the bailouts and repealing Obamacare."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.