National media are picking Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, to finish last in the three-way race for House majority whip.
But news organizations are saying he could gain ground by Thursday’s election or affect the outcome of a run-off between Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Steve Scalise, R-La., for the No. 3 leadership post in the caucus.
With both Scalise and Roskam in the range of 100 votes, Stutzman’s role appears to be that of a spoiler, National Review wrote Monday. But his play for the majority whip’s job is real, Stutzman’s allies say, and his path to victory is legitimate – albeit difficult. While he doesn’t have relationships across the conference like his two competitors, Stutzman does have one key constituency in his corner: the biggest class in House Republican history.
Stutzman was elected in 2010 as part of an 87-member GOP freshman class that gave the party its House majority.
Nearly 80 remain among the 233 Republicans in the 435-seat House.
The class of 2010 is looking for a candidate, South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who is supporting Stutzman, told National Review. And the conservatives are looking for a candidate – someone other than Scalise. And that’s the pathway to victory for Stutzman.
Politico reported Monday that Stutzman has lots of support from the hard right and those who were elected since 2010 – among them Mulvaney, Andy Harris of Maryland, Jackie Walorski of Indiana’s 2nd District, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and Thomas Reed of New York.
Stutzman was an organizer of two political action committees – Freshmen Hold ’em and Marlin PAC – that have raised campaign funds for Republicans elected since 2010.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a favorite of conservatives, is also backing Stutzman, Politico wrote. Jordan was elected in 2006.
Stutzman received a boost Monday from a conservative home-state group. Indiana Right to Life, which opposes abortion rights, endorsed his whip candidacy.
A political party whip solicits caucus members’ support for leadership positions and gauges how they will vote on legislation.
Politico reported further about Stutzman:
If he doesn’t win and is eliminated from consideration on the second ballot, his supporters will be crucial in deciding who emerges as the winner.
Scalise’s camp believes Stutzman and his team will eventually support the Louisianan because he’s seen as more conservative than Roskam.
Roskam’s team thinks Stutzman and his backers will revert to him because the Indiana Republican’s presence in the race is a direct rebuke of Scalise.
Stutzman, Scalise and Roskam seek to succeed California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is running for the No. 2 caucus position after last week’s Virginia primary election upset of Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Cantor will step down as majority leader at the end of July.
McCarthy is favored over conservative Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho.
Thursday’s election of whip and majority leader will be done behind closed doors by secret ballot.
Stutzman sent a letter to his GOP colleagues on Monday. In it, he makes four pledges: a commitment to regular order in which bills must be considered by House committees before reaching the floor, advance notice of whip checks of members, the timely distribution of copies of legislation and open communications between caucus leaders and members.
Stutzman also wrote that when he was a four-year assistant GOP whip in the Indiana House, he worked under Gov. Mitch Daniels as part of a team offering creative, transparent and bold leadership decisions that got results. I would bring that same approach as your Majority Whip.