…which is this: if the Speaker of the House were to buckle to pressure – currently being applied not just by the mainstream media and the Left but also by the Mark Levins and Erick Ericksons on the Right – and remove Steve Scalise as the House Majority Whip (something I predict won’t happen, as this overblown and idiotic controversy over a speech he gave 12 years ago will dissipate as soon as there is something else for the vultures to feast on), it won’t end Scalise’s political career.
Not by any means.
In fact, if Scalise is no longer able to ascend in the House leadership and he goes back to being just another congressman, he might start looking around for another avenue to move up the political totem pole.
And what Scalise might very well notice is that David Vitter is likely to be elected governor of Louisiana in 2015, meaning Vitter’s Senate seat will come open in January of 2016. And while Vitter might well appoint a placeholder to fill the seat for a year, the seat will be the state’s largest political prize in the 2016 election cycle.
To date, it looks like Scalise’s House colleague John Fleming has the likely inside track on the seat. But if Scalise were to enter into the picture that could very well change.
Just look at the money between Scalise and Fleming. Scalise’s last FEC report shows $718,000 in the bank after a relatively nonexistent race for re-election (he nevertheless raised and spent about $2.5 million), while Fleming’s does show some $1.1 million in the bank after a similarly easy re-election he only raised $1.5 million. That’s an indication Scalise is a bit better fundraiser than Fleming is, which would give him an advantage in the early jockeying for position as the prime Republican in the race.
There will likely be others who’ll jump in. Mary Landrieu, or her brother Mitch, could join the fray. Jay Dardenne and John Kennedy could get in. There is talk Charles Boustany might run, which would put a third member of Louisiana’s congressional delegation in the race.
But Scalise would have an advantage, because Scalise would go into the race as an aggrieved party screwed over by the Washington establishment. And Scalise would be one of the few potential candidates capable of challenging Fleming on the basis of conservatism; Fleming might be slightly higher on the conservative scorecards, but not by much, and Scalise could point to his work as RSC chairman as evidence that members of Congress looked to him as a conservative leader.
If anything, being freed from the burden of membership on John Boehner’s leadership team could help Scalise rebuild his street cred with conservatives in Louisiana. He would be a formidable candidate in that race.
And none of the other Republicans in the 2016 Senate race would have the desire – or maybe even the standing – to accuse Scalise of being a racist. Even Democrats in the state are laughing at such a suggestion. The national media and national Democrat Party might decide to go there, but it didn’t exactly set the house afire when Mary Landrieu pulled the racism card. Being falsely accused of racism in this state doesn’t seem to hurt a politician like it does elsewhere. Particularly when all kinds of people are coming to Scalise’s defense.
This is merely idle speculation on New Year’s Eve, mind you. But it’s appropriate, since idleness and speculation seems to be the reason we’re even discussing Scalise’s speech in the first place.