WASHINGTON — The battle for the chairmanship of the House Banking Committee will get serious Wednesday, when the challengers are scheduled to make their case in private, 30-minute interviews with a 25-member steering committee headed by Republican leaders.

Based on seniority, the front-runner for the top seat being vacated by Chairman Jim Leach is Rep. Marge Roukema, R-N.J. First elected 20 years ago, Rep. Roukema is the longest-serving woman in the House and chairwoman of the financial institutions subcommittee. Her primary challenger is Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., who has been in Congress 14 years and heads the capital markets subcommittee.

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