Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner on Wednesday pledged his support for a House Armed Service Committee seat for 4th Congressional District challenger Vicky Hartzler.
Hartzler is in a tight battle for the 4th District seat held by 17-term incumbent Democrat Rep. Ike Skelton, along with Constitution Party candidate Greg Cowan and Libertarian Jason Michael Braun.
“Vicky Hartzler has my full support for a seat on the House Armed Services Committee,” Boehner said in a Wednesday press release from the National Republican Congressional Committee. “I look forward to working with Vicky, the Republican leadership, and the members of the steering committee to place her on the committee at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Hartzler spokesman Steve Walsh said the campaign was excited by the news, which it announced last night during a candidate forum in St. Roberts.
“This is a big deal. Our understanding from all the polling is that Republicans will take back the House and we believe Vicky will win. It is important for people to know that a district with two military bases in it will still have representation on this committee,” Walsh said.
Jason Rauch, a Skelton spokesman, dismissed the news in a statement e-mailed to The Democrat on Wednesday afternoon.
“Vicky Hartzler has voted against our troops time and again,” Rauch said. “Putting her on that committee, even as a junior member with little to no power, is a bad idea for the people of this district who depend on Missouri’s military bases, and bad for America’s troops, whose everyday sacrifices protect our freedom. It’s now crystal clear what this race comes down to. Missourians know they can count on Ike Skelton, who fights every day for our troops, veterans and Missouri’s military bases.”
Boehner, the ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, is likely to be the Speaker of the House if Republicans retake the majority. Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats to retake the majority in the House.
Hartzler’s appointment to the seat would come after Nov. 2, when party policy and steering committees will assign committee membership to new members.
According to political handicapper Cook Political Report (cookpolitical.com) only 198 House seats are solid, likely or lean Democratic, while 197 seats are solid, likely or lean Republican, with 40 seats in the tossup column.
The 4th District seat held by Skelton, currently the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is listed as narrowly leaning Democrat, in a race considered a must win by both major political parties.
If Republicans are successful in retaking the house but Skelton retains his seat, he will most likely lose his chairmanship, but would remain as the ranking member for Democrats.
California Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, now the highest-ranking Republican on the committee, would likely become chairman if the balance of power shifts.
Tom Erickson, National Republican Committee spokesman, told The Democrat that nothing was certain in this election, but “there are certainly enough seats in play” for Republicans to retake the majority.
“No one counts chickens before they hatch,” Erickson said. “We feel very confident about our chances here, and the NRCC has made a significant commitment here because we feel confident about Vicky’s chances.”