When Rep. Jim Leach became ranking Republican on the House Banking Committee two years ago, many observers wondered if he was up to the job. After all, the Iowa lawmaker was a well-known maverick who would rather lose in a blaze of glory than suffer through the process of compromise and coalition building that is usually needed to win.

Rep. Leach quickly proved the doubters wrong. While still willing to take lonely positions, he established himself as a strong leader of the Republican opposition, battling the President on issues ranging from regulatory consolidation to Whitewater.

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