House Republicans voted for new No. 2 and No.3 leaders today. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) ascended Thursday to the majority leader role being vacated by Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) won the race for majority whip. Check here for the latest updates.
Starting before dawn, the three whip candidates held a series of frenzied conference calls and meetings while their staffers charted their vote counts on computer spreadsheets. Staffers for Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) in the Rayburn building prepared pamphlets and bright red “Geaux Scalise” stickers — a reference to his Cajun roots — for his supporters to carry into the afternoon session.
Indiana Rep. Marlin A. Stutzman’s youthful advisers, led by his chief of staff John Hammond, sat in a cramped and humid seventh floor office of the Longworth building, staying in close touch with tea party favorite Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has become point man for Stutzman’s long-shot bid.
Stutzman, who has been coy about where he would throw his support should his candidacy fizzle, said he was not prepared to say who he would vote for if he drops, confident that he could still edge out a competitor and make a second ballot.
Meanwhile, Scalise, who saw several members of House Speaker John Boehner’s inner circle and members of the long undecided Pennsylvania delegation break toward him late Thursday night, pointedly said he was not reaching out to Stutzman — who has clashed with Scalise’s approach as chairman of the Republican Study Committee— and was confident that he could possibly sweep on the first vote with many conservative Southerners behind him.
“No deals with anybody,” Scalise said as he stormed into his office, his phone pressed to his ear. “We’re going to win this thing.”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) spent Wednesday night at Acadiana, a Louisiana fish house in Washington, dining on soul food with more than 40 members of his whip team, toasting a win they sense is imminent though tightening. He handed out red baseball bats to his deputies as thanks for their support, a gesture signaling that should he rise, Kevin McCarthy’s laidback approach in the whip’s office would be replaced by a southerner comfortable wielding power.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) had burgers from Good Stuff — an eatery occasionally visited by President Obama — with his backers in the Capitol. Early Thursday, he held a meeting in the Henry Hyde room — one of many times that Roskam has this week used the legacy of Hyde, his House predecessor and a revered figure to antiabortion activists, to boost his standing with conservatives.
But as he strolled to his office Thursday morning, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) said that Roskam’s candidacy was troubled from the beginning, in spite of Roskam’s reputation as an earnest and trustworthy chief deputy whip.
“Peter’s very qualified, but he’s the same face,” Jones said. “Eric’s defeat was resounding and it was a message that our party needs new leadership and new faces. That’s part of why I’m supporting Scalise and gave a hearing to that nice young man from Indiana.”
On the House floor Wednesday afternoon, Roskam worked to convince older members that in a time of tumult, he is the candidate of stability, who knows “how to run the trains on time,” as Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Roskam’s whip campaign strategist, often puts it to reporters.
Sitting beside Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) who was first elected in 1973, Roskam held firmly onto Young’s shoulder, leaning in to whisper assurances. Young, 81, clearly enjoyed the attention.
But when Young left the House floor, he said he remained undecided. “It was a nice conversation but I don’t know,” he said. “Everybody sits down with you for 10 or 15 minutes — but that’s not long enough!”
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), chairman of the agricultural committee, said he hasn’t seen a whip race this intense since the early 1990s: “It hasn’t been like this since 1994, back when Tom DeLay and those guys were around.”
Rep. Marlin A. Stutzman (R-Ind.) has consistently shrugged off speculation that he stands little chance of making a second ballot, arguing that Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) have soft support among the sophomore class — his political base — and with conservatives. He also has heavily courted Midwestern Republicans who have been in Congress for decades, such as Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who will give a speech on Stutzman’s behalf before the vote.
Scalise’s associates, prepared for a variety of unforeseen developments this afternoon, have kept in touch with Stutzman, even though Scalise has resisted doing so, gently telling him that they respect his run and to keep Scalise in mind.
At an early morning congressional baseball practice Thursday, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), a Scalise backer, played catch with Stutzman, keeping the lines of communication open. “I’m his regional representative and we talked, and I was catching his pitches for awhile,” Shimkus said. “It wasn’t about making some kind of agreement, just talking.”
When pressed Wednesday outside the House floor to reveal whom he is advising his supporters to back in such a scenario, Stutzman shrugged.
“I don’t have an answer yet,” he said, chuckling at the speculation about his leanings.
Some Scalise and Roskam advisers have said that if the contest is close, Stutzman could be offered the position of chief deputy whip in an effort to get him and his team on board ahead of the second vote.
Stutzman cracked a slight smile at the possibility but was vague on whether he was interested in the job. “I’ll think about it at that time,” he said.
Scalise plans to march from Rayburn to vote w/ his team behind him, and I hear Roskam will also gather his tm. Warring armies in dark suits.
Both Scalise and Roskam will walk over to the leadership vote flanked by supporters ...just like West Side story ..only w/ less dancing.
By now, you’ve heard the news that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) could very well be the next House majority leader. But did you know that the would-be GOP leader won the lottery when he was 19?
Here are three other fun facts you probably didn’t know about the congressman.
Scalise staff prepares for final mtg in Rayburn pre-vote, Rep. Schock here early, says Stutzman still a wild card http://t.co/Uzw5JaZbPV