Lee Not Backing Down from Leadership Gambit?

Sen. Mike Lee says he’s still targeting the No. 4 job in Republican Party leadership, potentially setting up a conflict with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Reports Politico (see also related story at The Hill):

Mike Lee isn’t backing down.


The Utah senator faces a perilous path to getting the No. 4 job in Republican Party leadership that he covets: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argues that internal party rules dictate that Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming can serve in the job until 2018. And there’s substantial wariness within the caucus about an intraparty feud over future leadership elections, particularly while the GOP is pressing to hang on to its majority.


Lee’s gambit also could disrupt the unity within the party fostered by its stance against the president’s Supreme Court nomination — and further the senator’s reputation as a conservative bomb-thrower.


But Lee is pressing his case, insisting that the position of Republican Policy Committee chairman is wide open for 2017.


“I have no interest running against John Barrasso for this or anything else. I am interested in running for the open-seat Republican Policy chair,” Lee said in an interview on Wednesday.


That Lee believes the seat is still open is a direct challenge to McConnell, who brought Republican Secretary Laura Dove into the Tuesday caucus lunch to explain that Barrasso is eligible for another two-year term. But if Lee wins the argument, he’d imperil three-fifths of the leadership team: Barrasso, Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota and Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri all took their jobs in late 2011.