Rep. McMorris Rodgers Dodges Questions About GOP Leadership Race

November 10, 2010 4:12 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Earlier this afternoon, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell pressed Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to take sides in the leadership fight between Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). McMorris Rodgers worked hard to slip out of Mitchell's questions, at one point even declining to say whether or not Bachmann is qualified for the position. As Mitchell's questions grew more and more pointed, McMorris Rodgers just smiled wider and danced harder to get around them.

Eventually, McMorris Rodgers said that since both members are "very strong conservatives" with similar voting records, Republicans will decide who to support based on unspecified "other considerations." Watch:

Mitchell didn't ask what McMorris Rodgers meant by "other considerations," but the Hensarling endorsements from other leading Republicans have referred to his "economic expertise" — a quality Bachmann's never been accused of possessing. (Rep. Steve King (R-IA), her most ardent supporter, is in her camp because she "has charisma" and is a "Constitutional Conservative.")

Yet a quick peek at the two Republicans' fundraising this season suggests a different possibility. Bachmann is widely regarded as a money magnet, but it looks like she's been less generous than Hensarling in, well, spreading the wealth around. According to OpenSecrets, Hensarling's leadership PAC outspent Bachmann's by over $100,000 this cycle. Furthermore, Hensarling committed $185,000 from his own campaign fund to other Republicans. Bachmann's campaign pulled in a staggering $11,000,000, but the OpenSecrets data only shows $16,000 in contributions to House races from that war chest.

With Hensarling sweeping the major endorsements so far, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) suggesting Bachmann might not be up to the task, maybe the gravy train will give Republican leadership an excuse for ditching the fiery-tongued Tea Party "mama grizzly."

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