Steve Scalise Will Run for House Majority Whip

The dominoes are beginning to fall after Eric Cantor’s primary loss.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) holds up a photo of a pelican covered in oil as he questions BP CEO Tony Hayward during a House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on 'The Role Of BP In The Deepwater Horizon Explosion And Oil Spill', in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 17, 2010. Hayward is appearing before members of Congress as the historical and deadly oil spill disaster is nearing two months. 
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Tim Alberta
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Tim Alberta
June 11, 2014, 6:09 a.m.

Rep. Steve Scal­ise, the Louisi­ana Re­pub­lic­an who chairs the power­ful Re­pub­lic­an Study Com­mit­tee, will run for the po­s­i­tion of House ma­jor­ity whip, ac­cord­ing to two sources with know­ledge of his plans.

Scal­ise, who has spent months mulling a cam­paign for the No. 3 spot in lead­er­ship, fi­nal­ized his plans last night after Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor’s stun­ning de­feat in Vir­gin­ia’s 7th Dis­trict primary. Ac­cord­ing to a seni­or GOP aide, Scal­ise will likely an­nounce his plans pub­licly some­time in the next two weeks.

Can­tor’s loss triggered an im­me­di­ate dom­ino ef­fect in­side the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence, prompt­ing mem­bers who were already con­sid­er­ing lead­er­ship bids to ac­cel­er­ate their plan­ning. For­tu­nately for Scal­ise, who has made little secret of his de­sire to win the whip’s of­fice, there were no frantic late-night phone calls to be made last night. The plans have already been laid; Scal­ise was pre­pared to seek the po­s­i­tion wheth­er cur­rent Ma­jor­ity Whip Kev­in Mc­Carthy sought reelec­tion or not.

Now, with Mc­Carthy likely to run for the ma­jor­ity lead­er’s post, it will be a free-for-all to re­place him. In ad­di­tion to Scal­ise, Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, an­oth­er law­maker who has been lay­ing the ground­work for a lead­er­ship cam­paign, also plans to run for whip, ac­cord­ing to two GOP sources. Seni­or Re­pub­lic­ans also ex­pect Rules Com­mit­tee Chair­man Pete Ses­sions to con­sider the race — po­ten­tially set­ting up what could be an ex­tremely com­pet­it­ive three-way con­test between well-liked and well-con­nec­ted mem­bers.

Scal­ise may start the race with a math­em­at­ic­al ad­vant­age, giv­en that he chairs the largest mem­ber caucus in all of Con­gress. (The RSC today has more than 170 act­ive mem­bers.) That said, some of the RSC’s hard-core con­ser­vat­ives have ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment with Scal­ise, ar­guing that the tra­di­tion­ally ag­gress­ive group has ad­op­ted a more pass­ive ap­proach un­der his lead­er­ship.

Rep. Mick Mul­vaney, the South Car­o­lina sopho­more who is run­ning to suc­ceed Scal­ise as RSC chair­man, said earli­er this year that the group has de­volved in­to a “con­ser­vat­ive de­bate club.” And Rep. Raul Lab­rador, an­oth­er in­flu­en­tial con­ser­vat­ive, con­cluded sep­ar­ately of the RSC: “It’s a de­bate so­ci­ety.”

Still, Scal­ise en­joys wide­spread sup­port among the RSC rank and file, and is re­spec­ted throughout the con­fer­ence. His cam­paign for whip, ac­cord­ing to one source, will be cham­pioned by sev­er­al in­flu­en­tial and well-liked law­makers, in­clud­ing Reps. Kev­in Brady of Texas and Phil Roe of Ten­ness­ee. 

Scal­ise is also highly re­garded by the cur­rent lead­er­ship team. Many top Re­pub­lic­an staffers earli­er this year be­lieved that Can­tor, if he as­cen­ded to the speak­er­ship in the next Con­gress, would at­tempt to bring aboard Scal­ise as his whip. While there are many lead­er­ship scen­ari­os that could yet play out, that cer­tainly won’t be one of them.

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