Key House Oversight Republican likely to announce plans next week

House Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Tom Davis, R-Va., will likely announce next week whether he will seek re-election this year -- a decision that will be closely watched in Virginia and by House committee members.

"Odds are strong he will make his announcement next week," said a person familiar with Davis' plans.

Aides have consistently said Davis has not made up his mind whether he will run again. But after the lawmaker declined to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., and with a tough race expected in his increasingly left-leaning Fairfax County district, many political observers speculate that Davis will move on.

"It seems like the signs are pointing to the strong possibility he will retire," said one Republican staffer, who acknowledged having no direct knowledge of Davis' plans.

Davis' departure would affect both his district -- where Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Connolly, former Rep. Leslie Bryne and another candidate are seeking the Democratic nomination -- and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., who was passed over for chairmanship of the committee when Republicans held the House, is in line to become ranking member -- or chairman, should Republicans regain the House -- this time with backing from Republican leadership.

"He has had very positive conversations with the Steering Committee, leadership and members of the committee," said Betsy Wright Hawkings, Shay's chief of staff. Committee aides said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., may also have interest in the top Republican slot on the panel if Shays wins a desirable assignment elsewhere. An Issa spokesman did not return a request for comment today.

Shays' ascension to ranking member could complicate relations on the committee. Though their staffs have battled, Davis and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Waxman regularly emphasize their cordial relations. Public interactions between Waxman and Shays are testier. Last fall, Republican aides charged that a Waxman staffer had leaked information to Connecticut newspapers designed to damage Shays' re-election prospects, an allegation Waxman denied.

Another Republican, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, said Friday that she will announce Monday whether she will make a bid for governor, the Southeast Missourian reported. Emerson has been considering running since Republican Gov. Matt Blunt unexpectedly announced earlier this week that he would not seek a second term.

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