Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., the fourth-highest Republican in the House, is "seriously considering" a run for either House majority leader or majority whip, Fox News has learned.

Yesterday, the current House majority leader, Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, announced he would retire at the end of 2002.

If Watts goes for majority leader, it would put him in a head-to-head race with House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas. If Watts chooses the whip's race, he would go up against Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., DeLay's current deputy.

Watts is currently the House Republican Conference Committee chair, responsible for communications from the party.

Watts sent a letter to his Republican colleagues Thursday, urging them to withhold any commitments to any leadership candidates until all the members have a chance to consider the future of the GOP.

"Discussions are taking place as to the direction of our leadership in the coming months. I respectfully ask that you reserve judgment while we discuss the direction we will take as a Republican majority and as a movement in the future," Watts wrote.

Ohio Republican John Boehner, who had been considered a possible candidate for the positions, said Thursday he would run for neither position.