Although Texas Rep. Bill Flores won a hard-fought battle Tuesday to lead the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the infighting over the future of that influential conservative group may be far from over.
Flores defeated Rep. Mick Mulvaney of Virginia by an 84-57 margin on the second ballot to become the new chairman of the RSC, which has long functioned as both a research group for House conservatives and a de facto lobby that can put pressure on Republican leaders not to stray from conservative principles.
But now, some conservatives charge, allies of House Speaker John Boehner have effectively neutered the organization by engineering Flores' election.
During the campaign,
Mulvaney highlighted his willingness to stand up to Boehner and other members of the Republican leadership as a key reason to support him.
Mulvaney, the National Journal reported, "had implied Flores would be a shill for leadership and promised that under his own stewardship, the group could cause problems for Speaker John Boehner and his team."
After the RSC election,
GOP lawmakers clashed over whether the party leadership had intervened on behalf of Flores, who repeatedly emphasized that he was "not a bomb-thrower" and would have a more collegial approach in dealing with Boehner.
Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho accused leadership of interfering on Flores' behalf. When asked whether he and some other Republicans would renounce their RSC membership, Labrador replied: "We'll see."
For his part, Flores accused Labrador of misrepresenting leadership's role in the RSC race.
"That's not true; that's a false statement," Flores said. "If they were doing it for me, I would know about it, but I didn't know anything about it."
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