If Murkowski Loses, Republican Leadership Could Be All Male

If Alaska's Murkowski is defeated, Hill GOP leadership would be all-male, all-white.

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Some Republican leaders are worried about the monolithic nature of GOP leadership in Congress—it is almost wholly composed of white men—a fear which the apparently impending defeat of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Senate GOP conference secretary, would only exacerbate. If she loses, no woman or minority would hold a top Republican post in the next Congress.

Some House leaders have been fretting for weeks over the prospect of taking control from the Democrats but having no women in any of the top four jobs: speaker, majority leader, majority whip, conference chair, and policy chair. A position as vice chair of the conference has been held by women, the latest being Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

But a House leadership aide said that the GOP is eager to start in power with a woman in a key job, especially since they would be taking over from the Democrats, headed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But unless somebody challenges the men in those top positions, and that doesn't look likely yet, then the new GOP would look like the old GOP. House officials have many women to choose from, however, though they said that there are few who want the top slots.

The Senate situation would be worse at the start if Murkowski loses because she has been used as the GOP's spokesperson on energy and other issues. However, the GOP could turn to an incoming female member, such as California's Carly Fiorina, for a leadership role--if she beats Sen. Barbara Boxer. "It's so early to worry about that. And quite frankly, there will likely be a lot of new GOP women in the party in elective office after November so that should help. Unlike the House where they actually have options we're more limited," says a Senate leadership official.

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