The race to replace Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia as House majority leader after his primary loss is California Rep. Kevin McCarthy's to lose, says Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.
"McCarthy built up a heck of a lot of IOU's, and nobody really wants to expend their political capital between now and the midterms trying to secure that slot," O'Connell told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV
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O'Connell explained that the decision by Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, a tea party lawmaker, to make a bid for the leadership position is "absolutely" a protest run, but it's an uphill battle for the Idaho Republican because he doesn't "know the committee members all that well" or "his members of Congress."
The Republican strategist also said that the reason higher-profile House Republicans didn't throw their names in the hat is that "you cannot be in leadership and be a committee leader at the same time." That is why "a lot of folks like Paul Ryan and others" passed on the opportunity, O'Connell said.
"This was really McCarthy's race to lose from the outset," he added.
The race to replace McCarthy as House majority whip, being contested by Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, and Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, has become a lot more competitive than the race for majority leader, O'Connell says.
"Right now my sources indicate that Scalise has about 100 to 110 votes; you need 117 to actually win the race," he explained. "Roskam has between 90 to 95. Stutzman is a wild card — nobody knows what he has."
Roskam is currently the chief deputy whip. According to O'Connell, Roskam thinks he can win the top whip spot because he says that "no one's going to get 117 on the first round," which means Stutzman will likely get pushed out of the race, and "then it becomes a two-way between Roskam and Scalise."
"That is where Roskam thinks that he can actually beat out Scalise as using that whip apparatus to actually whip those votes at the very last minute on the second or third ballot," he explained.
The elections for House leadership positions are scheduled for Thursday.
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