Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, was elected House majority whip Thursday — elevating him to the No. 3 leadership post for House Republicans. He is Louisiana’s first member of the House leadership since 1999.
Scalise beat out two other challengers, Reps. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and Peter Roskam of Illinois, winning on the first ballot.
Scalise, 48, who has represented Louisiana’s First Congressional District since 2008, said his message to the 233 House Republicans was that he has developed a “track record” as head of the Republican Study Committee to “advance conservative solutions in a way that actually unites us as a conference.”
Scalise attributed his first ballot victory, against two opponents with sizeable GOP support, to having a “great team” of fellow Republicans behind him. Scalise even brought back former Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, a Tea Party favorite, to promote him with the GOP conference’s most conservative members.
Scalise’s supporters have argued that their candidate is already a conservative leader, as head of the Republican Study Committee, the House’s GOP’s large conservative caucus and that his election would elevate a southerner to the House GOP leadership. Some southern Republicans had considered their failure to land a slot in the GOP’s top leadership as a slight, given the party’s success in southern states.
Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, said Scalise’s election moves the GOP leadership closer to the conference, which, since 2010, has been “more conservative” than the House’s top leaders. It helped that Scalise led the Republican Study Committee, which consists of 176 of the House’s 233 GOP members.
Other Republicans said it just wouldn’t “look good,” for the top GOP leadership to continue to be headed by three Republicans from states that voted for President Barack Obama in 2012. As Majority Whip, Scalise will be in charge of getting the votes needed to advance legislation supported by the Republican leadership. But conservatives hope he will also have a “place at the table,” to influence GOP legislation.
SOURCE: Bruce Alpert, NOLA.com