The newest member of Minnesota's congressional delegation would like to be named to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee but recognizes that might be stretching it.

But Republican Erik Paulsen, elected Tuesday, said he still would prefer a committee assignment dealing with financial services to support business and job growth in his Third District, which includes most of the Twin Cities' western suburbs.

"I'd want to use my business background where I can develop strong core assistance to the small business community in the district," Paulsen said Thursday.

In about a week and a half, Paulsen, a former majority leader in the Minnesota House, will head to Washington for orientation and to meet with new colleagues. One of his first challenges is likely to be voting on House GOP leadership, which may be in flux after Democrats picked up at least 16 additional seats in the chamber.

Florida Rep. Adam Putnam, the No. 3 Republican in the House, resigned his leadership post Tuesday night, and the online publication reported that Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia was bidding to replace Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri as minority whip. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, could also face a challenge.

Cantor named Paulsen to a "Young Guns" program for young conservative candidates and campaigned for him aggressively. Paulsen said he probably would support Cantor for a leadership position if asked. "I'm a big fan of Eric Cantor," he said. "He's someone who wants to bring the party brand back to its roots. He wants to restore the roots of the party back to fiscal discipline and fiscal responsibility."

Paulsen also will be going to Washington at a time when the auto industry is approaching House Democratic leadership about a possible bailout. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was scheduled to sit down Thursday with the leaders of Detroit's automakers and their workers as the industry seeks federal funding to survive a dramatic downturn.

Paulsen, who campaigned opposing the economic stimulus package but said he would have supported the second bailout of the financial services industry, said he was not inclined to support an auto industry bailout.

"Once Congress gets its political paws in finance, there is some concern there," he said.

Mark Brunswick • 651-222-1636