GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers won't seek leadership position in new Congress

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the chair of the House Republican Conference since 2013, will leave that position and not seek a new leadership post in the new Congress, a source familiar with her thinking told Fox News Thursday.

McMorris Rodgers, who was elected to an eighth House term on Tuesday, had expressed interest in replacing Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., as the GOP Whip if Republicans had kept control of the House this year. However, the Democratic takeover of the House means Scalise is likely to remain GOP Whip, as McMorris Rodgers was not interested in challenging Scalise directly for the post.

Allies of McMorris Rodgers told Fox News that she had already served three terms as conference chair, a position they described as "thankless." They added that spending a fourth term as conference chair for a minority party in a divided government would not benefit her in the long term. She is expected to seek a ranking member post on a House committee and has seniority on the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

McMorris Rodgers had proved to be an effective fundraiser on behalf of her Republican colleagues. The 49-year-old raised $17 million this cycle, including $2.1 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee and $9 million for GOP members and candidates.

If McMorris Rodgers had wanted to stay on as conference chair, she would have had to fend off a challenge from Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming. Cheney, who was elected to a second term Tuesday, announced her bid for conference chair in a letter to her colleagues Wednesday in which she argued that House Republicans "must fundamentally overhaul and modernize our ... communications operation.

"We need to be able to drive our message across all platforms. We need to own the daily news cycles," Cheney wrote. "We need to lead and win the messaging wars ... Constantly playing defense in the battle of communications is a recipe for failure."