Majority Whip Steve Scalise became the House’s third-ranking Republican by touting Southern pride and conservative bona fides. But just more than one year into his tenure, both attributes come with major downsides in his attempt to become the next House Majority Leader.
His shaky first year on the job, mixed reviews from the conservative base he pledged to represent, and persistent news reports that he may have spoken at a white supremacist rally when he was a state legislator in 2002 could hamper the Louisianan’s continued rapid rise, according to several Republican members and aides.
Scalise and Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price are vying to succeed Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who made his candidacy to succeed Speaker John Boehner official Monday and who is widely expected to ascend to the top job. The contest for leader is turning out to be the marquee leadership race of the free-for-all set off last week when Boehner announced that he will resign Oct. 30—and it is still possible more candidates will enter the fray.
Scalise got a major boost Monday night when, as Politico first reported, GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers decided to forego a run for majority leader. Despite questions about her own candidacy, she was likely to secure the moderate Boehner-land vote. Several defense-minded members who earlier this year squabbled with Price over military spending would not likely support the Georgian, leaving a large swath of members open to Scalise.