When word reached Capitol Hill in mid-August that House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) had offered his hometown paper a critical analysis of "antagonistic" GOP colleagues, rumors flew that he was about to retire--and the jockeying began to succeed him. The favorite is Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), but his scorched-earth style worries some colleagues. Other contenders: Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), a less confrontational conservative, and Representative Gerald B. Solomon (R-N.Y.), a moderate conservative. Michel says he'll reveal his plans by October.

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