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Leadership Roundup: Scalise Is in, Gowdy Isn’t (Updated)

Scalise made it official, he's running for majority leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Scalise made it official, he's running for majority leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:46 p.m. | Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., will play coy no longer with the public and the press: On Tuesday morning, he announced he was running for majority leader.  

“I understand from experience that unity is easy to call for, but it takes the right kind of leadership to achieve. As both Republican Study Committee Chairman and Majority Whip, I’ve made it a top priority to bring openness and inclusiveness into the legislative process so we can bring our dynamic conference together as we advance our agenda,” Scalise wrote in a letter hand-delivered to colleagues.  

He continued, “As your Majority Leader, we’ll build upon this inclusive approach to deliver results you can be proud of.” Scalise is running for the No. 2 post in House GOP leadership with the expectation that the current majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will win his own race to succeed Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, who will resign at the end of October.  

With Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., opting not to compete, Scalise currently only faces a challenge from Budget Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga. — who, while he may not have the same infrastructure as Scalise, has two high-powered conservative endorsements from Ways and Means Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.  

Price made his bid formal Monday night, and it was important for Scalise to also announce before too late Tuesday in advance of a 5 p.m. special GOP conference meeting carved out for members to share concerns about the current dysfunction in their party and discuss ways to move forward.  

But more names have been bubbling up to the surface of other lawmakers who might want the majority leader gig. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., who has enjoyed the media spotlight the past few days for pushing for the special conference meeting, appears to be eyeing something in the post-Boehner leadership shakeup.  

On Tuesday morning, two Utah Republicans, Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz and freshman Rep. Mia Love, vouched for Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi.  

Love put out a statement urging her colleagues to join in a “draft” of Gowdy, saying he will “stand up and speak out for the conservative principles and conservative polices that capture the imagination of hardworking Americans.”  

Chaffetz, in an interview on Fox News, said he thought “Trey Gowdy as the majority leader would be heaven sent.”  

Another freshman, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., also endorsed the South Carolina Republican.  

Gowdy himself seemed to pour cold water on the idea later in the morning, telling fellow South Carolinian Rep. Mick Mulvaney he is not in the runnning.  

On Facebook, Mulvaney wrote: “I just talked to Trey for 20 minutes. He made it clear to me, in no uncertain terms, that upon further reflection last night and tonight, he is OUT of any consideration for any leadership position. He wants to focus on his work on the Benghazi commission. While I think he would have been a great majority leader, I absolutely respect this decision. He isn’t the kind of guy to leave a case midstream, and it makes complete sense to me that he has decided to stay and continue his work on Benghazi.”  


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