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Choosing the LeaderLeadership Elections in the U.S. House of Representatives$
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Matthew N Green and Douglas Harris

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300222579

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300222579.001.0001

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Why Run? Party Leadership Ambitions in the House of Representatives

Why Run? Party Leadership Ambitions in the House of Representatives

(p.26) Two Why Run? Party Leadership Ambitions in the House of Representatives
Choosing the Leader

Matthew N. Green

Douglas B. Harris

Yale University Press

Drawing upon interviews with current and former members of Congress and congressional staff, plus existing research on political ambition, this chapter offers some tentative answers to the question of why certain lawmakers decide to be candidates for a party leadership post. Following the lead of political scientist Jennifer Lawless, it frames the discussion in terms of two kinds of ambition: nascent ambition, or the general “interest in seeking elective office,” and expressive ambition, “the act of entering a specific race at a particular time”. It shows that these two kinds of ambition ultimately determine who among all of its members leads the House, as well as the degree of stability and conflict that exists within both political parties.

Keywords:   Congress, political ambition, lawmakers, congressional leaders, party leadership, nascent ambition, expressive ambition, political parties

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