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
give and take of guiding legislation through the House, and Guy Vander Jagt
of Michigan, an accomplished orator. The difference between the two
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:
the development and implementation of all Republican policy and strategy
- Served as liaison for Republican members with the
administration and the Senate
- Served to a great extent as a spokesman
for Republican positions
- Had overall responsibility for the
coordination of Republican activities in the subcommittees and committees
the House as well as activities on the floor of the House
responsible for appointments to various committees and commissions.