WASHINGTON — Conservative Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) will challenge Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) for the post of ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it was disclosed today.
The choice will be made, probably early next year, by committee Republicans but the loser can force a vote by the entire Senate.
Lugar, a moderate Republican, will give up the chairmanship when the Democrats take control of the Senate next year.
Helms, leader of the Senate's GOP conservative bloc, differs with Lugar on some policy issues. Most recently he opposed the tougher sanctions against South Africa that Lugar shepherded through his committee.
Helms also has been a strong supporter of certain right-wing Americans to become ambassadors.
In a letter to Lugar, dated Nov. 7, Helms said he could not support Lugar's request to serve as the top Republican on the committee.