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Southern Baptists among leadership in U.S. House of Representatives

WASHINGTON (BP)–Three Southern Baptists were among those selected by Democrats and Republicans for leadership positions in the next session of Congress.
Republicans elected Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas and Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma as majority whip and conference chairman, respectively. Democrats again chose Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri as minority leader. DeLay and Gephardt won without opposition posts they held in the last Congress. Watts defeated incumbent conference chairman John Boehner of Ohio.
DeLay, Gephardt and Watts are all members of churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. At least 26 incumbents who are Southern Baptists were re-elected to the House in the Nov. 3 election.
One of those, however, announced late in the same week as the election he would leave Congress. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., decided after the Republicans’ disappointing election performance he would not run again for the speakership and would resign his House seat. The GOP, which had expected to gain seats, lost five in the election. Gingrich is a member of a Southern Baptist church in Kennesaw, Ga.
Republicans selected Rep. Bob Livingston, R.-Ga., to replace Gingrich. He ran unopposed. Livingston announced his intention to seek the speakership only a few hours before Gingrich’s decision to resign. The full House will elect the speaker when it convenes in January.
In the majority leader’s race, Rep. Dick Armey, R.-Texas, overcame bids to unseat him by Rep. Steve Largent, R.-Okla., and Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R.-Wash. Republicans named Rep. Tillie Fowler of Florida as the conference vice chairman. Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia upended incumbent Rep. John Linder of Georgia to head the National Republican Congressional Committee, which recruits and finances candidates for the House.
Democrats re-elected Rep. David Bonior of Michigan as minority whip. Bonior had no opposition. They selected Rep. Martin Frost of Texas, who defeated Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, as caucus chairman. Rep. Robert Menendez of New Jersey outpolled Rep. Cal Dooley of California and Rep. Albert Wynn of Maryland to become caucus vice chairman. Gephardt appointed Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.