House conservatives are pushing for South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy as the No. 2 leader in the chamber following last week's surprise resignation of Speaker John Boehner.
"He is the kind of smart fighter our country needs and the American people deserve," Utah Rep. Mia Love said in a statement to The New York Times
on Tuesday. "With impressive communication skills, genuine compassion and the tenacity of a prosecutor, he will unite the party and the people around a truly American agenda."
Love is among a rising number of conservatives behind a "Draft Gowdy" effort for a top leadership post, the Times reports.
But late Tuesday, Gowdy told Politico
he doesn't want the job and will resist any movement to draft him.
"No, because I am staying on the Benghazi Committee," Gowdy, who chairs the special investigative panel, said.
A former prosecutor, Gowdy is chairman of the select House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks. He has emerged as a nemesis to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, who will testify before the panel in October.
With California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the current majority leader, most likely ascending to the speakership, conservatives are eyeing Gowdy to help chart a new direction for House Republicans after Boehner.
McCarthy was elected last year after Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia was upset in a bruising primary election by novice university professor Dave Brat.
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also backs Gowdy, the Times reports.
For his part, Gowdy has remained silent on his further leadership intentions. The majority leader controls the House floor schedule and is involved in committee assignments and often serves a link to the media.
"Chairman Gowdy is focused on the Benghazi committee and will serve in that capacity so long as the committee exists," spokeswoman Amanda Duvall told the Times.
But South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who also floated Gowdy as a candidate, said on Twitter that his colleague was not interested in the position.
Gowdy is close to McCarthy, however, and his ascension could be seen as easing suspicions among conservatives that he would not be out to silence the 40 or so members of the House Freedom Caucus, the Times reports.
Many caucus members have consistently opposed Boehner since he began his first term as speaker in 2011 and were expected to challenge him for a fourth term after next year's elections.
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