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Blunt, Boehner top contenders to succeed DeLay

Sunday, January 8, 2006

A look at two Republicans who may seek the House majority leader post:

* Roy Blunt of Missouri:

Low key and affable in public, Blunt presents a marked contrast to the hard-driving DeLay, whom Blunt succeeded as House Republican whip in 2003 and now may seek to ascend to the second-ranking post of majority leader. Blunt, 56, has risen rapidly through his party's ranks since winning election to Missouri's 7th District in 1996. DeLay, who was the GOP whip at the time, tapped Blunt as his top deputy in 1999. Blunt became whip, in charge of counting and nailing down votes, when DeLay became majority leader in 2003. Blunt took over as acting majority leader in September when DeLay, indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of conspiring to violate political fund-raising laws, was forced to step aside.

* John Boehner of Ohio:

Boehner, 56, came to Congress 15 years ago as a crusader against what he saw as the excesses of Democratic power. He was elected to the leadership when Republicans gained a majority in the 1994 election landslide. Boehner lost his post in the hierarchy four years later amid internal struggles following a coup attempt against then-Speaker Newt Gingrich. As chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Boehner helped shepherd Bush's No Child Left Behind education bill through the House. Boehner has a strong conservative record, but has also shown an ability to reach across party lines. He pushed pension legislation through the House last year, attracting nearly 300 votes after a last-minute accommodation with the United Auto Workers.

-- The Associated Press

Boehner, 56, was born in Cincinnati. He ran a successful plastics and packaging company before winning local and state elections in the 1980s and capturing his seat in Congress in 1990.

During his freshmen year, Boehner became part of the "Gang of Seven" that went after the ethical lapses, mainly of the Democratic majority, including the House Bank scandal. It turned out that lawmakers were writing checks to the House's internal bank without the money to back them up.

Boehner and his wife, Debbie, have two daughters.


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