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Congressional Leadership Race

Anatomy of a Congressional Leadership Race: About the Project

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In December 1980, Republicans in the House of Representatives chose Robert H. Michel of Illinois as their leader, the Minority Leader of the House, a position he held until retiring in 1995.  Anatomy of a Congressional
Leadership Race uses historical materials contained in the Robert H. Michel Papers housed at The Dirksen Congressional Center in Pekin, Illinois, to describe the contest.

The race featured two contenders:  Michel, a strategic expert skilled at the give and take of guiding legislation through the House, and Guy Vander Jagt of Michigan, an accomplished orator.  The difference between the two was not
ideological.  Both were staunch conservatives with similar voting records. But the contest reflected a contrast in styles and approach to the leadership post and in the direction in which the two would be likely to lead the House Republicans.

Here's what a Minority Leader, at that time a Republican, did:

  1. Oversaw the development and implementation of all Republican policy and strategy in the House
  2. Served as liaison for Republican members with the administration and the Senate
  3. Served to a great extent as a spokesman
    for Republican positions
  4. Had overall responsibility for the coordination of Republican activities in the subcommittees and committees of the House as well as activities on the floor of the House
  5. Was responsible for appointments to various committees and commissions.

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