The Keystone State’s Republican legislators represent a sizeable voting block in this Thursday’s election for whip. Following House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking defeat, the PA delegation appears to be supporting the interests of moderates, rather than the extremely conservative.
A Texas coalition of 24 lawmakers leans further right than the Pennsylvanians, and both groups are forming alliances as the vote approaches.
Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana all seek the leadership seat, in one of the most highly contested whip elections in recent history. Cantor’s defeat seems to have awakened House Republicans to the realization that leadership positions are truly temporary, and will not be attained easily.
Politico reports that Roskam believes his team commands 6 of the 13 PA GOP members’ support. If the PA legislators plan to cast their votes together, it may provide the extra support Roskam needs.
However, Rep. Joe Pitts told Politico that the delegation was split after Tuesday’s meeting. A 90 minute meeting featuring presentations from the three candidates did not produce a consensus.
The Washington Post’s Robert Costa tweeted out a background tip from a member of Congress that the PA delegation is leaning towards Roskam but will likely not vote as a total unit.
Scalise appears to be leading Roskam by nearly 20 votes, according to internal sources, however it remains unclear which candidate Stutzman’s voters will support if none of the three attain a majority after the first vote. If neither Scalise, Roskam, or Stutzman command the 117 votes necessary to win, the lowest vote-getter of the three will be removed from the ballot and Republican legislators will cast their votes in secret again.
Roskam stated in an interview in his Capitol office that, “I feel good about where we are on a first ballot, I feel good about where we are on a second ballot. Coming into a competitive race like this, you’ve got to be fully aware of all the dynamics that are around.”
Representative Jim Gerlach (PA-6) commented that, “For me, the biggest criteria is having a leadership team that understands the members that come from very, very tough districts.” Gerlach, however is retiring, and hopes for a moderate Pennsylvanian successor to fill his Ways and Means Committee seat.
The GOP will continue its internal battle in Thursday’s whip election and the November midterm elections. Only time will tell if moderates will cruise to victory or if further polarization will shake up the dynamics of Congress.