How Tough Would It Be To Beat Steve Scalise?

Scott McKay had a very provocative post this morning speculating that House Minority Whip Steve Scalise could be in trouble in LA-01. A lot of people are not happy in the very conservative district about some of Scalise’s most recent votes, particularly on the DHS funding surrender. From Scott’s piece today, here’s probably the most damning thing to activists in the district:

Scalise is tied to Boehner. He’s Boehner’s whip. And as the whip, Scalise had to vote for the clean DHS funding bill.

This is a problem for Scalise, because on Saturday of last week he was heard to tell a group of Republican activists back home in his district that the House had already passed a bill for DHS funding and wasn’t sending the Senate another one. Three days later not only did Boehner make a liar out of him but he was one of the 75 Republicans essentially crossing the aisle to vote for the clean DHS funding bill Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi asked for.

That’s not the kind of thing your constituents, particularly in a cast-iron conservative district like Scalise’s, want to see.

No matter what fancy title you have in Congress, if your constituents lose trust in you, you’re done. Not only does Scalise look like a liar back home but he especially looks like a liar to those in his district to the ones who would be the ones knocking on doors and making phone calls in a potential election.

Here’s another thing that can hurt Scalise that as of now he has no clear path to the Speakership. Lamar White’s smear of Scalise as a panderer to racists was false and disgusting, but it did its job which was to stop Scalise’s rise through the ranks. Even if Scalise could mount a challenge for the Speakership, it’s clear that conservatives would not consider him an acceptable alternative to House Speaker John Boehner. Here’s a front-page diary  published at RedState two days ago that not only called him unacceptable as speaker, but that Scalise must be primaried.

I won’t go as far as he does and suggest that every one of the 75 GOP members who supported the bill must be primaried, but it’s more because I think we should focus our efforts on a few. In particular, Boehner must be our first target this primary season, and for the good off our party he must be defeated. Along with him we must target Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), neither of whom are acceptable candidates for the Speakership if Boehner goes.

Steve Scalise has become a top target for conservative activists in 2016 and combine that with an angry activist base that sees him as a liar. How tough would it be to oust a sitting House Minority Whip? At first glance, it seems tough.

For starters, here’s a glimpse of what Steve Scalise has in the bank coming into this election cycle:


He has nearly $500,000 in the bank and he raised over $2.5 million last election. But, Scalise raised $747,408 of it from individual donors. The overwhelming amount came from PACs. The biggest difference between individual donors and PACs is that PACs usually max out when they give whereas individual donors in most cases can be hit up again and again for donations. Not to mention, this high amount of PAC money can be used by an opponent to paint Scalise as a tool of special interests.

Now who might challenge Scalise? It’s easy to see one of the “fiscal hawks” such as State Rep. John Schroder (R-Covington) [disclosure, I worked on Schroder’s first legislative race in 2007] or State Rep. Cameron Henry (R-Jefferson) challenge Scalise. It would be easy to add “Steve Scalise is a RINO and a fraud” to the hymnal “Bobby Jindal is a RINO and a fraud.” However, it’s hard to see Henry, who was Scalise’s former legislative assistant, challenging Scalise and Schroder isn’t well known enough outside of St. Tammany Parish.

The man who would pose the biggest immediate danger to Scalise is former U.S. Senate candidate, Col. Rob Maness. Maness defied expectations and finished with 14% of the vote in the U.S. Senate open primary. Maness can also raise the money to play in this race as well. Here’s the end of the year summary of Maness’s campaign account:


All but $76,000 of the money Maness raised came from individuals. That’s a list that Maness can tap again. Plus, Maness has Gator PAC which he can use a vehicle to raise money and build a volunteer list for a future bid for higher office.

If the election was held today, would Scalise defeat Maness or anyone? Probably, but Scalise’s problem is that the election is not today, it’s in 20 months.  After 2012, the establishment wing of the GOP learned its lessons. It appears after 2014, the conservative wing is also learning its lessons.

Many conservatives hoped that Steve Scalise would push Boehner and leadership to the right, but it seems the opposite is the case. Scalise needs to change course or he could face problems at home, like Eric Cantor did.



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