Cennamology Chief Editor
After Eric Cantor announced yesterday that he was stepping down as majority leader (effective on July 31st, which happens to be my birthday), I was already very curious as to who would be replacing him.
Immediately after Cantor lost his renomination, I assumed that his protege, and ideological clone, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California would run to take Cantor's place - which would mean that the position of majority whip would become open as well.
One of the first names to pop into my head was Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who is notable for being the highest-ranked woman in the Republican leadership as she is chair of the House Republican Conference and also gave the official party response to the State of the Union earlier this year. Needless to say, I was quite surprised when she announced yesterday that she would not be seeking a higher position. Also taking their name out of the running for majority leader was Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, likely because he did not want to have to compete against fellow Texan Rep. Pete Sessions for the position of whip. Less surprisingly, but still worthy of mention, Rep. Paul Ryan also said he will not run for a leadership position, probably indicative of him testing the waters for a 2016 presidential run.
Race for Majority Leader:
One of the three architects of the "Young Guns" program started by him, Cantor, and Paul Ryan, the 49-year-old McCarthy is without a doubt the front-runner for majority leader. Currently the third-highest ranked Republican in the house, Cantor endorsed him by saying that he has his full support if he decided to run for majority leader. It is clear that McCarthy is running for the position.
Groomed by Cantor himself, Kevin McCarthy's rise in the house leadership was fast, to say the least. He was only elected in 2006 and became deputy minority whip (serving under then-minority whip Cantor) in just his second term. Hailing from a conservative central California district, he was the minority leader in the California House of Representatives before being elected to the House of Representatives. Out of his four elections to the U.S. House, he ran without Democratic opposition in two of them and won the other two with over 70 percent of the vote.
Ideologically, McCarthy seems to be a standard conservative. He does not give speeches on the House floor frequently, but it's safe to say that his views are probably very in line with Cantor's, meaning that nothing will change much (if at all) if McCarthy is elected majority leader.
The 59-year-old Pete Sessions, currently the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, is considered the underdog in the race for majority leader, but he should not be counted out. The Waco, Texas native was first elected to the House in 1996, ten years before McCarthy. Earlier this year, Sessions crushed a highly-promoted Palin-backed Tea Party opponent 63.6-36.4 percent in the primary.
While undoubtedly part of the "Republican establishment," Sessions also appears to be the option preferred by the more conservative wing of the party. He is also the more controversial of the two, having a number of slip-ups over the years including connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, said that he liked the Princeton men's basketball team because "it's not everyday that you get to see a bunch of white guys playing basketball," and allegedly told President Obama "I can't stand to look at you." Clearly, if Sessions were to become majority leader, late night comedians' jobs will become much easier.
On immigration reform, Sessions strongly opposes the Senate bill passed last summer. On his website, Sessions says that "it is important that any immigration reform proposal must first and foremost secure our borders, strengthen interior enforcement, and prosecute and deport criminal aliens in the United States before taking other steps forward."
All in all, there will be little difference in policy outcome whether McCarthy or Sessions becomes the majority leader. I fully expect both to continue the obstructionist tradition of the Republican-led House of Representatives.
Race for Majority Whip:
Man is this guy an idiot. I am ashamed that he shares my name (well he spells his full name with a "ph" instead of a "v" so that makes me feel a little better). I have really only ever heard him talk once, and once is all I had to see. In an interview after the State of the Union earlier this year, Scalise said "Obama wants to combat climate change? Well we had snow back in Louisiana tonight, so that's kind of funny." Clearly, this science-denier does not know the difference between "weather" and "climate." He should be in a middle school science class, not the US Congress.
Seriously, the "global warming doesn't exist because it snowed this winter," is an argument so juvenile that it sounds like something Peter Griffin from Family Guy would say.
Anyway, the 48-year-old Scalise is the head of the Republican Study Committee, a group of 170 of the most conservative House members who annually introduce legislation to cut taxes for the rich, slash any program that helps the poor, and impose their definition of social morality on America.
Obviously, Scalise is very conservative, though not considered "Tea Party" as he was elected to the House in 2008, before the movement started, to replace Bobby Jindal who became Governor of Louisiana. I was baffled to read in Politico earlier this morning that "conservatives were cautious on whether Scalise would pass the conservative test because of his close ties to the leadership." It is clear that, nowadays, conservatism is not based on actual ideology anymore in the eyes of many. It is instead based on whether or not you alienate yourself from the leadership. Scalise is extremely conservative, and I would be scared if he ever became speaker one day.
The 52-year-old Peter Roskam is currently the Chief Deputy Whip, making him the fourth-highest ranked Republican in the House. He was first elected to the House in 2006, the same year as McCarthy, and previously served in the Illinois state legislature for 14 years. He has whip experience, as he was the Republican whip during his days in the Illinois State Senate. Before entering politics, he taught history and government at a high school in the Virgin Islands. He first political job was working for former majority leader and convicted felon Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
The only hiccup he has really had during his time in the House was a brief ethics probe last summer regarding a trip he and his wife took to Taiwan, which some alleged was illegally paid for by the Taiwanese government. Other than that, nothing is really all that interesting about him. He just seems to be an ordinary Republican, having a low rating from the League of Conservation Voters, a high rating from the NRA, and is an opponent of same-sex marriage among other things. He would be a safe pick for majority whip, as it appears that he is not as stupid as Scalise (which isn't saying much).
A wild card in this race, Stutzman's name was not even floated by the media until he officially threw his hat into the ring Thursday morning. After losing a primary for the U.S. Senate to current Sen. Dan Coats, Stutzman won a 2010 special election after Former Rep. Mark Souder resigned after admitting to an affair with a staffer. Before the 37-year-old Stutzman joined the House, he served in the Indiana state legislature for eight years.
Stutzman's entrance into the race provides an option for the Tea Party Caucus, of which he is an active member. He is on record supporting the 2013 government shutdown, despite not knowing exactly what benefit House Republicans planned to get out of it (makes total sense right?). Although clearly an underdog for the job, he is not an impossibility either.
Price has not yet officially declared his candidacy for the position yet, but if he does he would also be another underdog and would potentially split votes with Stutzman. The 59-year-old Price is currently the Vice Chairman of the House Budget Committee (which Paul Ryan currently chairs) and has previously served as the chairman of the Republican Study Committee and the Republican Policy Committee.
Price is the king of frivolous legislation. In late 2011, Tom Price cosponsored legislation affirming "In God We Trust," as the nation's official motto, despite the fact that it already was America's official motto and the legislation would have changed absolutely nothing. The intent of the legislation was to send a petty message to President Obama, as Price said, "Obama mistakenly said that our country's official motto is 'E pluribus unum,' so we did this just to remind him." This is what a Republican-led Congress wastes their time with, folks.
A physician, Price was elected to the House in 1996, making him the candidate for whip with the most seniority. He is a typical southern conservative who strongly opposes abortion, gay rights, spending for states that is not his own, anything loosely resembling gun control, and thinks that Obamacare is destroying America.
Overall, the views of the candidates for majority leader and majority whip are pretty much identical with one another. In the long run, it really does not matter who gets which job (although I will prefer anyone over Scalise, just because of his moronic climate change remark). All in all, no matter who wins which position, Congress will still be an incredibly unpopular institution that fights a lot and gets little done.
But for the record, my predictions are that McCarthy will be majority leader and Roskam will be majority whip. I just pray to God that it's not Scalise. We will find out who wins each position on June 19th, one week from today.
UPDATE::: Tom Price has just announced that he will NOT run for majority whip. Instead he plans on succeeding Paul Ryan as chairman of the House Budget Committee.