By Kayce T. Ataiyero and Tracy L. Fercho
WASHINGTON – Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R- Frederick, has abandoned his bid to draft Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde for House Speaker, just days after Hyde gave the effort his blessing.
An aide to Bartlett said Hyde, R-Ill., called Monday and withdrew his name from consideration because of the enormity of upcoming impeachment hearings he will preside over.
Hyde’s request comes as apparently overwhelming support is building for the bid by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, R-La., to be the next speaker.
Republican members of the Maryland delegation contacted Tuesday were also leaning toward backing Livingston’s bid.
“Livingston has shown himself to be someone who can work with different factions in the Republican Party,” said William Miller, chief of staff for Rep. Constance Morella, R-Bethesda.
Morella and Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R- Kennedyville, have indicated that they will vote for Livingston. Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R- Timonium, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Bartlett’s press secretary could not say how the Western Maryland congressman will vote in the speaker’s race. But his earlier backing of Hyde should not be construed as lack of support for other candidates, she said.
“He [Bartlett] trusts Henry Hyde more than any other member of Congress,” said Lisa Wright. “He would not have been happy not supporting his favorite choice.”
Of Livingston and the candidates for House Majority Leader, Wright said Bartlett thinks there is an “embarrassment of riches.”
“He likes everyone, so it’s not about choosing one over the other,” she said. “It’s like asking you to choose your favorite child.”
For Gilchrest the choice is a lot easier. The Eastern Shore congressman told Livingston before the campaign season started that he would support his run for speaker.
“I’ve known him [Livingston] about eight years. He’s reasonable. He’s competent. That’s the kind of leadership we need now,” Gilchrest said.
Gilchrest said he supported Speaker Newt Gingrich’s decision to step down, because he said the Georgia Republican gave the Democrats ammunition to distract the party from the issues.
“I think Newt did what he thought was best for the Republican Congress, the presidential election in the year 2000 and for himself,” Gilchrest said. “They [Democrats] have this caustic water pistol that they keep filling up, no matter who’s there.”
Morella received a call from Livingston after Gingrich announced he would step down, said Miller. He added that she has indicated that she will support Livingston.
Miller said that Morella has a great deal of respect for Gingrich but “it’s probably the right time for this change in leadership.”