A potential rift within the Republican Party has likely been avoided as Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has dropped her bid to become the chairman of the Republican Conference.
According to media reports, Bachmann, who is a popular figure among Tea Party supporters, ended her campaign for the post on Nov. 10 and pledged her support for Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). Her announcement means that Republicans will dodge an internal election for the No. 4 position in the House hierarchy that could have alienated some Tea Party activists if Bachmann had been defeated.
Her decision is similar to the one made by Tea Party-backed Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who opted not to challenge Represenatative Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for Majority Whip, the No. 3 slot in the leadership structure.
Bachmann said that her endorsement of Hensarling will not stop her from advocating for the Tea Party movement.
"I look forward to continuing my consistent support of the Tea Party," said Bachmann, quoted by The Wall Street Journal. “I plan to advance the Tea Party ideals through their listening arm, the Tea Party Caucus. It is my wish to bring new faces to the caucus, including freshmen members."
Bachmann's announcement came shortly after the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, a portal for conservatives and Tea Party supporters, launched a petition drive to urge House Republican leaders not to intervene in Bachmann's bid. In a letter to activists, Richard Viguerie said that Bachmann and Hensarling both deserved an equal shot at chairing the House Republican Conference because they are both small-government, constitutional conservatives.