Pryce to step down from Republican House leadership

At a "victory" press conference, the veteran congresswoman admits the day is bittersweet.

Published November 8, 2006 8:38PM (EST)

Democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy is not yet ready to concede defeat in Ohio's 15th District, but incumbent Deborah Pryce was ready to declare victory at an afternoon press conference at her campaign headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday.

Only 3,600 votes separate the two. The Kilroy campaign contends that there are still some 40,000 provisional ballots, many from Kilroy strongholds, yet to be counted. The Pryce campaign disputes that number and says the number is closer to 16,000.

Even declaring victory, Pryce admitted the day was "bittersweet," noting that so many of her colleagues have gone down to defeat, and agreeing with the president's description of Tuesday's election results as a "thumpin'" for the Republican Party. And she had a surprise announcement of her own: She will be stepping down from her role as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, which had made her the fourth-ranking Republican in Congress.

She says she made the decision because of "what she heard from voters" and that -- in a twist on the usual formulation of resignation announcements -- she's doing this to spend more time with the voters in her district.

Pryce isn't the only House Republican leader who'll be stepping down. Embattled Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert also announced Wednesday that he will not seek election as minority leader.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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