With current House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy all but assured to take the Majority Leader spot in tomorrow's leadership votes, the real race prompted by Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary loss has been the three-way contest to replace McCarthy. Of the three candidates, two stand a likely chance of succeeding: Reps. Peter Roskam and Steve Scalise. Along with longshot candidate Rep. Marlin Stutzman, the pair have until tomorrow to secure enough votes for the job.
As Politico explains, Scalise is currently the front-runner. But he'd have to get 117 votes tomorrow in order to beat Roskam without a second round of voting. Scalise has predicted that he will win this contest cleanly in round one, but if he doesn't do that, things get trickier. Scalise reportedly has as many as 110 votes secured for tomorrow's first round, and Roskam has 95. Stutzman has about 50. Meanwhile Roskam, a deputy whip, thinks he can beat Scalise in the second ballot. Sources told Politico, for instance, that Roskam's team believes at least 15 Scalise supporters will defect to his side for the second ballot.
Scalise is a red state conservative, and currently chairs the Republican Study Committee. Robert Costa at the Washington Post reported that Scalise has been playing up those roots to his colleagues, attempting to draw a contrast between his style and that of the current leadership:
Because Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) and McCarthy are considered by many conservatives to be less combative Republicans from a purple state and a blue state, respectively, Scalise has been playing up his regional appeal, making the case that more geographical balance is needed in the upper ranks as well as more of an ideological edge.
“I’m from a red state and I believe it’s very important to have one of us in there at the leadership table,” said Rep. Renee L. Ellmers (N.C.), a Scalise supporter. “Steve is going to be the whip from the red states, speaking for us.”
The three candidates addressed their colleagues in a closed forum on Wednesday morning.