Thursday November 15, 2012

WASHINGTON -- Stinging from double-digit election losses among female voters, House Republicans elected a woman to their top leadership team Wednesday in a tense test of gender politics and the clout of the GOP’s power brokers.

The election of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state to the No. 4 leadership position among House Republicans dispatches conservative favorite Tom Price of Georgia, who had been endorsed by Mitt Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Newly elected Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana said it was important to have a woman in a top role.

"It does show our party values strong female leadership," Brooks said of McMorris Rodgers’ election. She said she expects the party now to "try and do a better job of getting our message out to a broader audience."

Earlier in the day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., surrounded herself with other female lawmakers to announce that she will run again for leader despite her party’s failure to gain the 25 seats it needed to flip control of the House.

As in the House, senators re-elected their top leaders, Nevada Democrat Harry Reid and Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell.

Republicans elected Texas Sen. John Cornyn as the vote-wrangling whip, South Dakota Sen. John Thune as the GOP conference chairman, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso as policy committee chairman and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party’s campaign arm.

For Senate Democrats, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin remains whip and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York remains policy committee chairman. Washington Sen. Patty Murray will serve as secretary, leaving open the chairmanship of the Democrats’ campaign committee. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was said by Democratic officials to be a leading contender for that spot.

Another question answered about the makeup of the next Congress: Newly elected Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, announced that he will caucus with Democrats next year.