Panel members back California Republican as next Armed Services chairman

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., and 23 GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee signed a letter last week endorsing Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., to succeed retiring Armed Services Chairman Bob Stump, R-Ariz., next year.

"We are writing to express our support for your efforts to obtain the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee," the legislators wrote in a letter dated Thursday. "In these trying times, our committee faces significant challenges that could determine the security of our nation."

With the letter, Weldon quashed speculation he would challenge Hunter for Stump's chairmanship. Weldon unsuccessfully challenged Stump when the job came open in 2000, and had not ruled out another run when Stump made his retirement announcement in late April.