McCarthy and Scalise Win GOP House Elections

Image: McCarthy and Scalise Win GOP House Elections

Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 04:32 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy is the new majority leader of the House of Representatives, with Rep. Steve Scalise stepping up to the No. 3 position in the GOP.

Republicans realigned their leadership on Thursday after Eric Cantor's stunning loss June 10 in the Virginia primary.

McCarthy, 49, a fourth-term lawmaker from California, was the majority whip — the House's chief vote counter. He beat out Rep. Raul Labrador, a conservative from Idaho who waged a late campaign for the post.

Succeeding McCarthy as majority whip will be Scalise of Louisiana, 48, the head of the Republican Study Conference, a group of conservative House members.

Scalise was victorious in the three-way race on the first ballot, quelling concerns from conservatives that they needed to be represented in the House leadership.

He came out ahead of McCarthy's deputy, Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, who is in his fourth term; and Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman,  a second-term lawmaker who was supported by tea party-backed lawmakers.

The totals of the secret-ballot elections were not immediately disclosed. The House Republican Conference has 233 members, and only 117 votes are needed to win the House positions.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state remains in the No. 4 slot as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert will run for Scalise's former position as head of the Republican Study Committee, a spokeswoman told Newsmax late Thursday.

"America is struggling," new Majority Leader McCarthy said at a joint news conference after the vote. "We're struggling with a stagnant economy, a failed healthcare law — and so many are living paycheck to paycheck.

"They're looking for individuals who put people before politics," he added. "I make one promise: I will work every single day to make sure this conference has the courage to lead with the wisdom to listen. And we'll turn this country around."

Scalise said that he was "looking forward to bringing a fresh, new voice to our leadership table and joining with this team to help confront the challenges that people all over this country are facing.

"We've got solid, conservative solutions that can solve the problems facing this country," he said. "We've reached out to the president to join us in solving those problems, but we are going to continue to move forward in the House as a united team.

"We're building a stronger team to address those problems and continue to work to get our country back on track and our economy moving again."

Defeated candidate Roskam took his loss in stride and congratulated Scalise on his victory. "He ran a great race and I look forward to working together to achieve conservative policy wins that improve the lives of the American people," he said.

The elections capped a brief one-week campaign set in motion after Cantor lost his Richmond-area seat to Dave Brat, an obscure, underfunded economics professor who was backed by the tea party. Cantor had been expected to easily take the renomination.

By holding quick elections, Speaker John Boehner and other leaders hoped to avoid a protracted, divisive struggle that could complicate the GOP's chances of holding onto its majority in the November congressional elections.

The new leadership will govern for about 12 legislative days between July 31, when Cantor steps down, and Nov. 4. Congress is in recess most of August and October.

The leadership issue arises again after the elections — and it could involve Boehner, who has said that he plans to seek another term.

McCarthy is a former congressional aide first elected to Congress in 2006. He moved quickly to consolidate votes after Cantor's announcement as one potential rival, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 vice presidential candidate, decided against joining the race.

Two Texas conservatives, Reps. Jeb Hensarling and Pete Sessions, were initially considering running for Majority Leader. But Hensarling deferred to Sessions, who then dropped out of the bidding to avoid dividing the party.

Labrador, 46, then jumped in, but by that time McCarthy had amassed enough votes to be considered the front-runner. He was aided not only by personal ties, but by the fundraising prowess he has displayed since joining the leadership.

His Majority Committee PAC gave nearly $1.2 million to Republican House candidates and organizations in the two-year election cycle of 2011-2012, and an additional $480,000 to candidates so far in advance of the midterms this November.

McCarthy's voting record tends to lean less conservative than Cantor's.

The American Conservative Union gave McCarthy a 72 score for his House votes last year, down from 86 in 2012. Those scores compare with an 84 for Cantor last year, down from 95 the year before.

A perfect ACU score is 100 — and Scalise received that for the past two years. Labrador received a 100 last year, up from 96 the previous year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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