|June 25, 2014|
Previously published on June 20, 2014
Late Thursday afternoon, House Republicans gathered to elect a new Majority Leader and a new Majority Whip. The election came as the result of Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-VA) shocking primary loss and his subsequent decision to resign as Majority Leader. When the smoke cleared and the Republicans emerged from the members only vote, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was announced as the new Majority Leader and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) as the new Majority Whip.
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, the odds-on favorite, defeated the more conservative Rep. Raul Labrador. Each employed a popular conservative to deliver a nominating address—Rep. Tom Graves was in McCarthy's corner while Rep. Jim Jordan sided with Labrador.
McCarthy won—and likely by a large margin. Though some members pushed for the tally to be released, the proposal was dismissed, and Labrador, in an act of sportsmanship, asked that the record reflect a unanimous win for McCarthy.
In the race for Majority Whip, three candidates—Reps. Scalise of Louisiana, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana—would compete for the post, but all eyes were on Scalise. He had been the favorite throughout, amassing an enormous team of supporters and running a well-oiled whipping machine that saw lawmakers making midnight calls and aides with clipboards counting heads at Thursday's meeting.
No one doubted Scalise was the front-runner coming in. The only question was whether he could win a majority—116 of the 231 votes being cast—to claim an outright victory and avoid a second ballot. Roskam and Stutzman knew they couldn't beat him initially; their only hope was to force a head-to-head runoff, and then hope to steal a huge bloc of supporters from the eliminated last-place candidate.
They were nominated in alphabetical order. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who is leading a select committee investigation on the events in Benghazi, praised his panelist, Roskam, as a collaborator who brings members together. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, a soft-spoken conservative who commands respect throughout the conference, vouched for the personal decency of his roommate, Scalise. Finally, Rep. Tom Reed, an alumni of Stutzman's class of 2010, touted the Hoosier's commitment to an open policy-making process—and drew the loudest cheers of the afternoon by saluting Cantor, their outgoing leader.
But the strength of Scalise's coalition was too much to overcome and the Louisiana Congressman was elected on the first ballot.