Scalise Appears To Be The Popular Choice For Next Speaker If The GOP Holds The House

That’s the takeaway from a Morning Consult poll released yesterday, one of the questions in which was who Republican voters would prefer to succeed Paul Ryan with the gavel in the U.S. House of Representatives. It shouldn’t be a major surprise that Steve Scalise led the way.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is the preferred candidate among Republican voters to become the next House speaker if Republicans can keep control of the lower chamber after the midterm elections.

A new Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday shows 18 percent of Republican voters would like to see Scalise in the position, while 11 percent want Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is expected to replace Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., once he gives up his post at the end of the current term, came in third with 9 percent.

Scalise acknowledged in March he was interested in becoming House speaker, but said he wouldn’t run against McCarthy. Jordan announced last month he was running to replace Ryan, but he is seen as a long-shot candidate compared to McCarthy.

From a Louisiana perspective, the outcome of the House elections could be pivotal. Scalise has given the “aw, shucks” treatment to discussions about him perhaps returning to the state to run for governor, and for obvious reasons – if the Republicans can hang on to the House majority he’s in line to at least move up to McCarthy’s House Majority Leader position from his current spot as the Majority Whip, and based on McCarthy’s trouble in ascending to the speakership after John Boehner left there are lots of people who think he’s not going to be able to cobble together a majority to take the job this winter now that Ryan is retiring.

And if McCarthy can’t get to a majority, Scalise is going to be the favorite, with Jordan as the insurgent conservative darkhorse.

But if the Democrats should take the majority and put Nancy Pelosi back in charge of the House, there is a body of thought which has Scalise coming home and running for governor. We don’t know whether there is any meat on that bone; in truth, it’s probably too early to tell.

There was a Mason-Dixon poll this spring pitting Scalise against John Bel Edwards in a hypothetical 2019 gubernatorial race and Edwards edged Scalise 46-43. Our guess is the only reason Edwards did so well was that lots of voters would be nervous about Scalise giving up his leadership position in DC to run for governor. If he’s in the minority in the House next year, Scalise probably runs into a lot less resistance – and we would expect that if he did get into the 2019 governor’s race in Louisiana he’d clear the field pretty quickly and set up a pitched ideological battle with Edwards for the future of the state, one Edwards would not be able to paper over with speeches at ALEC or pro-life platitudes.

That’s something we’ve been longing for ever since Edwards upset David Vitter in 2015. We’re obviously not willing to see the Democrats take over the House to get it, though – we’d rather see Scalise ascend there. And so, it appears, do Republican voters across the country.

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