Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 30, 2014

McCarthy Likely to Cruise to Leadership Victory; Other Slots Up for Grabs

mccarthy 080 061114 445x292 McCarthy Likely to Cruise to Leadership Victory; Other Slots Up for Grabs

Supporters of McCarthy and his bid to succeed Cantor are confident heading into the weekend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nice guys don’t always finish last.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, an affable Californian who was once criticized as being too friendly to get far in leadership, has locked up the support needed to become the second-ranked Republican in the House in less than a week.

The election to choose House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s successor isn’t until June 19, but McCarthy’s lightning-quick whip operation stifled any would-be competition, and discontented conservatives and Southerners were unable to recruit a competitive candidate from their own ranks.

Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas dropped out of the race Thursday night, after Rep. Jeb Hensarling, another Texan, declined to run, telling his colleagues the job would put a strain on his young family.

Many on the right had been pushing for Hensarling to enter the race as a conservative alternative to the current elected leadership. But with his decision not to run, members conceded that McCarthy — currently the majority whip and the third-ranked Republican in the House — will likely cruise to victory.

“I would’ve preferred someone with a nice Southern drawl, but we don’t have that option. Jeb Hensarling is from Texas and he speaks more like my folks do and has fought philosophically more in tune with the way my folks think,” Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said. “But Kevin, when you look at his leadership abilities, his charisma, his ability to project on public policies issues, you have to give him an A-plus across the board.”

Still, Sessions would have drawn votes from most of the close-knit Lone Star State delegation, said members exiting a meeting of the Texas lawmakers.

“One’s from Texas, one’s from California. I’ll leave them to define the differences,” Rep. Randy Weber of Texas said of the contest. “You got 24 Texas Republicans in our delegation and I think we can all go out and call our colleagues and our friends in other delegations … the conservative ones … [who] indicated they would be on board with a Texas leader. … We’ve got to go out there and get to work.”

But it was not to be. Sessions said he did not want to cause an unnecessary rift among his conference and issued a statement dropping his bid late Thursday evening.

There may still be another entry, as Rep. Raúl R. Labrador is mulling a bid. But with McCarthy’s operation already in full swing, members and aides said the Idaho Republican offers the “Hell No Caucus” — an informal bloc of several dozen of the House’s most conservative Republicans — little more than a protest vote.

When asked earlier Thursday whether he would run, Labrador said, “I am not commenting right now.”

House Republicans will hold a candidate forum on Wednesday in the Capitol, and the conference is asking members who want to run to make their bids official as soon as possible.

While the majority leader fight looks to be settled, the race to replace McCarthy as whip has heated up with the surprise entry of a third candidate into what had been shaping up as a head-to-head match-up.

Heading into Thursday, Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise of Louisiana had been pulling away from Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois, according to several sources. Scalise had made inroads pushing the message that he would be the only Southerner in top elected leadership and could represent conservatives at the table.

But Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, who is close with many conservative members of the conference, made a surprise jump into the race Thursday morning.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina noted that tea-party-aligned members might be persuaded to vote for Stutzman instead of Scalise.

“Stutzman’s entry into the race might cost Scalise more than it would Roskam,” Mulvaney said. “But again, Steve has been a pretty good chairman of the RSC.”

But Scalise can offer Southerners what they could not get in the race for majority leader: one of their own. As Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas put it, “I do consider Louisiana to be far-East Texas.”

And his support has not been confined to the South. Reps. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., and Aaron Schock, R-Ill., are some of his top whips.

But others, who are looking for an experienced hand at the table, said neither Stutzman nor Scalise would be the best candidate because both have, to varying degrees, voted against must-pass bills.

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., a member of the whip team, is undecided because he is personally close with Scalise and has worked closely with Roskam, but said that to Roskam’s credit, he has been a team player.

“There’s a lot of things that we whip that we don’t want to be whipping, but we have to. And when those days come, based on your voting history, how do you reverse gears?” Rooney said. “So if you haven’t had a history of voting for those things, it’s going to be very difficult for you to convince yourself and others to do that.”

Roskam has dipped into Scalise’s Southern support, with Reps. Kay Granger of Texas and Richard Hudson of North Carolina helping his cause. Several members described the race as an agonizing choice.

Adding to the leadership shakeup, if Scalise wins, the RSC chairmanship will be up for grabs.

He would be required to vacate that role and an election to fill it would be scheduled later, according to the RSC bylaws as explained to CQ Roll Call.

Mulvaney is the front-runner — he has been running for the post for weeks. But Stutzman has also privately been mulling the chairmanship and could use his bid for whip to leverage support for the top RSC position.

As a dark horse, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas announced he will run as well, drawing a quick endorsement from fellow Texan Rep. Steve Stockman. Gohmert unsuccessfully ran for the post once before, losing out to Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

The influence of the group’s founders and former chairmen is a huge boost for the bid, but Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas, the only remaining founder of the group, declined to endorse a candidate. ”The committee has strong conservative members with the ability to lead and uphold our bedrock principles of freedom, free enterprise, and limited government,” he said in a statement.

The RSC bylaws also put a one-term cap on its chairman. However, if a current chairman needs to step down in the middle of a Congress, the member elected to serve out the remainder of his or her term is allowed to seek re-election to run the RSC for a full two-year term in the next Congress.

It means that, should Scalise become whip and the race to succeed him becomes competitive, the ultimate loser will have an opportunity for a rematch in a few months — though the incumbent would surely have the advantage, as incumbents usually do.

Emma Dumain contributed to this report.

 

Related stories:

Labrador Announces Candidacy for Majority Leader

Steve King Blasts Snap Election to Replace Eric Cantor

Pete Sessions Drops Out of Majority Leader Race, Clearing Way for Kevin McCarthy (Updated)

Leadership Shuffle Begins After Cantor Shocker

Stunner: Cantor Loss Changes Everything

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  • Layla

    Ask Kevin why he won’t call for an FBI investigation of the Hispanic killings going on in his Congressional district by Kern County Sheriff’s deputies and elsewhere in California. 5 to 6 have died in the custody of Kern County Sheriff’s in the past year and Kevin will not help their families by calling for an investigation.

    Not one of these families have been able to get through to the FBI. Not ONE.

    Hispanic Americans, ALL Americans are NOT going to tolerate these killings. California has a Democrat Governor who also will not help.

    VOTE CONGRESS OUT, BOTH SIDES. End the killings and corruption in this country.

  • MrSmith

    You guys are having a ball, and deservedly so!
    It’s been a while, did Captain Ahab’s First Mate have to be replaced with a ‘team player’ after Moby got him? Boehner’s determination to squash conservatism will doom us all.
    A conservative would be a fool to join his ship- as Cantor just proved.

    • Layla

      Cantor was a RINO. If Boehner refuses to put conservatives into the leadership, not only will the GOP lose the House, but most of their base will jump parties and become Independents. As one who regularly walks precincts, that is happening now.

      You people need to spend more time talking with those who don’t give you money. Have never seen Congress so out of touch with average Americans. You have become authoritarian and greedy and that will soon end the GOP.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    WHAT ABOUT THE 3 MILLION UNEMPLOYED AMERICANS WHO HAVE BEEN WITHOUT AN UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION SINCE LATE LAST DECEMBER? THESE FAMILIES, MANY OF WHOM, HAVE FACED FINANCIAL RUIN, OVER THE PASSED SIX MONTHS DUE TO THE INABILITY OF THE TWO POLITICAL PARTIES TO ACT EFFECTIVELY ON THEIR BEHALF. WHEN BILLIONS OF TAX PAYER DOLLARS HAS BEEN APPROVED FOR THE UKRAINE, THE REPUBLICANS ARE STILL UNCERTAIN WHETHER WE CAN AFFORD TO HELP THESE UNEMPLOYED AMERICAN FAMILIES. HOW CAN THIS BE EVEN POSSIBLE TO BE HAPPENING? IS IT MORE COST EFFECTIVE TO HAVE THESE MILLIONS OF FAMILIES NEEDING TO GO ON PUBLIC ASSISTANCE AND FOOD STAMPS IN ORDER TO SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES INSTEAD? THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATS HAVE BOTH FAILED THESE THREE MILLION FAMILIES MISERABLY. MAYBE THEY JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE. MAYBE THEY’RE MORE CONCERN WITH THEIR OWN PARTY AGENDA AND PERSONAL ENRICHMENT. THE NEXT ELECTION PROMISES TO BE A TIME FOR TOTAL CHANGE IN THE POLITICAL ARENA. MANY OF THESE POLITICIANS WILL NOT BE IN OFFICE.

  • Joanna

    Revolutionary Marxism failed, in part, because it deprived human aggression of the internal channel of private property, redirected aggression outward, and thus gave rise to the most ruthless dictators.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    THERE ARE STILL 3 MILLION UNEMPLOYED FAMILIES WITHOUT AN EXTENSION BILL, SINCE LATE LAST DECEMBER, BECAUSE OF THE POLITICAL GAMES AND INFIGHTING OF BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES. MANY OF THESE FAMILIES ARE NOW IN FINANCIAL RUIN, AND MANY HAVE BECOME HOMELESS. THESE FAMILIES HAVE BEEN USED AS BARGAINING CHIPS, AND FOR POLITICAL LEVERAGE BY SENATE REPUBLICANS.WHILE CONGRESS RECENTLY APPROVED BILLIONS OF DOLLARSIN FOREIGN AID FOR THE UKRAINE, AND PLAN ON SPENDING EVEN MORE TO EUROPE FOR DEFENSE, NOT ONE DOLLAR IS GIVEN TO THESE FAMILIES SINCE LAST DECEMBER. WHERE IS THE SO CALLED FAMILY VALUES OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY? THEY HAVE SHOWN A TOTAL LACK OF VALUES AND COMPASSION TO THOSE HURTING AND STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE IN A POOR ECONOMY. THESE CAREER POLITICIANS MUST BE VOTED OUT OF OFFICE IN THE NEXT ELECTION. THESE SO CALLED PUBLIC SERVANTS NO LONGER SERVE THE PUBLIC, BUT ONLY THEMSELVES.

  • Ash Berger

    Democratic processes can be expanded by increasing the number of eligible voters or expanding the scope of issues determined by them.

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