U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise told Fox News Wednesday that he will fully support House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his bid for the speakership if the GOP regains control of the House of Representatives.
McCarthy formally announced his bid for the House speakership in a letter sent to lawmakers Wednesday after he won his ninth term in Congress by defeating his Democratic challenger, Marisa Wood, in an election that saw underwhelming results for Republicans despite months of predictions about a “red wave.”
Republicans are still expected to take the House, though with a smaller majority than expected. Reports late Tuesday surfaced suggesting Scalise was considering launching a bid of his own for the speaker’s gavel, but the minority whip quashed any speculation on Wednesday, telling Fox News that he will vote for McCarthy in next week’s internal election.
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“We’re going to have our elections next week. I’m supporting Kevin McCarthy for speaker, and he’ll win that race,” he said. “And ultimately, you’ve seen us pull together these last few months and focus on the attack against big government socialism. What they’ve done to our country and our economy is what’s united not only Republicans. But again, we’ve already won in a number of places Republicans haven’t won in decades.”
When “America Reports” host John Roberts further pressed Scalise on the possibility of challenging McCarthy, the Louisiana lawmaker said plainly, “I’m supporting Kevin.”
“I’ve said it very clearly…and again, I think Kevin’s going to win next week and we’re going to be talking about getting to work,” he responded. “I know a lot of people like to focus on all of the drama in Washington. We’re going to get to work for the hard-working families who gave us this majority.”
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McCarthy could face a tenuous path to the speaker’s suite, with some worrying whether he has enough support among current and incoming House Republicans to secure the 218 votes he needs to take the gavel. A GOP majority would likely be very thin, reducing McCarthy’s margin of error in a House speaker race, as well as when governing in a majority – just a few members defecting on a vote could stall key legislation.
In his letter declaring his speakership bid, McCarthy told his GOP colleagues that he will be a “listener” every bit as much as a “speaker,” saying that he is “determined to make sure this majority reaches its full potential.”
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Scalise, who secured his congressional seat representing suburban New Orleans by wide margins on Tuesday night, reportedly has launched a bid to become the next House majority leader.
Fox News’ Caroline McKee contributed to this report.