Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2016 Contest Overshadows GOP Governors Meeting

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2016 Contest Overshadows GOP Governors Meeting

Article excerpt

BOCA RATON, Fla. * No fewer than a half-dozen potential presidential candidates are gathering in Florida as the Republican Governors Association prepares to select its next leader.

The organization's annual conference began Wednesday in a luxury oceanside resort where the nation's Republican governors are celebrating their party's recent success in the midterm elections while privately jockeying for position as the 2016 presidential contest looms.

None of the most likely White House candidates is expected to seek to replace the outgoing RGA chief, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as the group's chairman. It's a position with responsibilities that would conflict with the presidential primary season.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he would not run for the RGA chairmanship for just that reason.

"It's pretty obvious at least it's something I should consider," Walker said of a White House bid during an interview with The Associated Press. "And if I'm going to do that, I'm not going to put my colleagues in the position of having someone in place who isn't 100 percent committed to the leadership of the organization."

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam acknowledged he had emerged as the favorite to lead the Republican Governors Association through the next year, although the formal vote won't take place until today.

"I told them I'd be willing to do it," Haslam said.

"It's an important organization," he added, explaining his interest in the post. "I am one of those guys who thinks it matters who governs particularly who governs in our states."

The conference comes two weeks after the GOP's midterm rout, in which they gained control of Congress and expanded their majority of governorships across the country. In January the Republican Party will control 31 states compared with Democrats' 19. The party's strong performance offers a presidential springboard to governors who won re-election, Walker among them, and others, like Christie, who played a leading role in the GOP's success.

Though Hillary Rodham Clinton remains the overwhelming Democratic front-runner should she seek the presidency, the prospective Republican field is crowded and without a clear leader. …

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