Tags: Eric Cantor Defeat | Exclusive Interviews | David Jolly | Kevin McCarthy | leadership

Rep. David Jolly on House Leadership Vote: 'Very Healthy Debate'

Image: Rep. David Jolly on House Leadership Vote: 'Very Healthy Debate'

By Todd Beamon   |   Friday, 20 Jun 2014 06:51 AM

House Republicans had a "very healthy debate" before "unanimously" electing Rep. Kevin McCarthy as majority leader and Rep. Steve Scalise as majority whip, Rep. David Jolly told Newsmax late Thursday.

"We had a healthy debate," the Florida Republican said in an interview. Jolly was sworn in to Congress in March to fill the unexpired term of the late Rep. Bill Young.

"We had leadership races — but at the moment that it mattered, our caucus came together and decided unanimously that we were supporting our leadership slate."

McCarthy, 49, from California, moved up to the No. 2 spot from whip — and Scalise, 48, from Louisiana, moved into his spot — as Republicans realigned their leadership after Eric Cantor's stunning loss last week to tea party-backed newcomer Dave Brat in the Virginia primary.

Thursday's vote was by secret ballot, and the results were not announced.

Cantor announced last Wednesday that he was stepping down as majority leader at the end of July. House Speaker John Boehner moved to hold quick elections to avoid a protracted struggle that could damage the Republicans' chances of holding onto the House in the fall elections.

McCarthy, who is in his fourth term, was seen as the leader for the No. 2 spot from the outset, beginning his campaign within hours after Cantor's loss in the June 10 primary, The Washington Post reported.

He eventually beat back three conservative challengers — the latest one being Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, who declared on Friday — before winning on the first vote on Thursday.

Scalise, who has been in the House since 2008, built on his role as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative legislators, and defeated two other conservatives on the first ballot.

Labrador congratulated McCarthy and described his candidacy in a statement as "one of the best experiences I’ve had in Congress."

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents Washington, remained in the No. 4 post as head of the House Republican Conference.

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who has long clashed with the GOP leadership, plans to seek the chairmanship of the study committee.

Of the vote, Gohmert told Newsmax in a statement: "Kevin has said it will not be business as usual, so now we will see if the coming evidence supports such a verdict."

Meanwhile, Boehner welcomed McCarthy and Scalise, saying that "competition is a good thing."

In his Newsmax interview, Jolly especially praised Scalise's election.

"The introduction of Steve Scalise is a great step forward for our conference," he said. "This is a conservative who knows how to govern, and this is a great thing."

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