Conservative Georgia Rep. Doug Collins is laying the groundwork to run for House Judiciary chairman next year, buttonholing colleagues who choose panel chairs and showcasing his legislative acumen, Politico reports. Collins is the first to jump in formally for the powerful post to succeed the retiring Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). While Collins is not next in line in seniority, the significant number of departures on the committee and his close ties to GOP leaders give Collins a strong shot at the job. Collins, a 51-year-old former lawyer has been working with President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on a criminal justice reform bill that Trump supports. As vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, he enjoys a close relationship with many of the senior lawmakers on the Republican Steering Committee, which selects committee chairs. (For Collins to become chairman, the Republicans must keep control of the House.)
Collins’ move to climb the ladder comes as top Judiciary Republicans have announced their retirements, including Goodlatte, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Darrell Issa of California, and Lamar Smith and Ted Poe, both of Texas. Rep. Raúl Labrador, a former immigration lawyer on the committee, is leaving to run for Idaho governor. Collins could face competition from Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, who is far more senior than Collins. Collins said his approach would be to move legislation that can pass, not wait for perfection. Case in point: His criminal justice reform bill. It would give prisoners an opportunity to gain skills while serving their sentences, in hopes of making them more employable after they are released and reducing recidivism rates. Many Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), also want to decrease mandatory minimums for certain nonviolent drug-related offenses — an idea Collins supports. It’s a nonstarter with the law-and-order Trump, Politico says.