WASHINGTON (AP) — It's a long, long way from Pago Pago to the halls of Congress, and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a Republican delegate from American Samoa is rarely sighted in the halls of the Capitol. She doesn't have a vote on the floor on behalf of her 55,000 constituents halfway around the globe.
But she gets to vote for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., or one of his GOP conference rivals in Thursday's closed-door, secret ballot to determine the party's candidate to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Radewagen can't vote, however, in the all-important tally of the full House later this month, when McCarthy, Thursday's prohibitive favorite, needs to get 218 or so of the chamber's 247 Republicans to officially win the speakership.
She hasn't announced who she'll support but Radewagen is a longtime GOP loyalist, having attended eight Republican conventions, so McCarthy is probably a safe bet.
Some tea party conservatives are unwilling to commit to McCarthy on that vote, adding uncertainty to an already roiling GOP conference.
Radewagen also gets to vote in an expected set of down-ballot races for majority leader and whip, which are expected to be a lot closer than McCarthy's nomination and where her vote, actually, could make a difference