Rep. Steve Scalise trounced his two opponents in the race to be the next House majority whip on Thursday afternoon.
The Louisiana Republican defeated Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), the chief deputy whip, and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) on the first ballot, an impressive showing that surprised insiders who suspected none of the candidates would get the outright majority to avoid a runoff election.
“We’re going to move forward in the House of Representatives as a united team,” Scalise said at a news conference after his victory, calling the election a “win for America.”
It was a secret ballot election so the vote tally won’t be announced. But Scalise’s victory on the first ballot means he had to have received at least 117 votes.
Scalise, first elected in 2008, has been chairman of the deeply conservative Republican Study Committee. His ascent to the No. 3 position is notable because he has voted against leadership on a variety of issues including the 2011 debt limit agreement, the 2012 bill to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and the 2013 deal to re-open the government and avert a catastrophic debt default.
Scalise will be the lone member of House GOP leadership from a red state, an issue he played up in the race.
He won the support of House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and other allies of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) which suggests he may have a positive relationship with other members of leadership.
“We are united,” McMorris Rodgers said.
Scalise replaces McCarthy for the No. 3 position. McCarthy was elected majority leader, succeeding ousted Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) in the No. 2 slot.
The job of the whip is to secure votes and unite the conference behind leadership’s initiatives.