Steve Scalise, the U.S. Representative from Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District, was elected whip of the growing Republican membership in the House without opposition on Tuesday.
The last person from Louisiana to hold a leadership position in Congress was Hale Boggs, nearly 50 years ago. It’s an interesting coincidence that Scalise actually sits in what used to be Hale Boggs’ big (and beautiful) office just off the House chamber.
You might wonder how a kid from Archbishop Rummel in Jefferson Parish could have achieved such a powerful position in a building housing the political leaders of America.
Scalise works hard in his district and in Washington, D.C., but he also is a Louisiana political animal: He travels the country helping elect new members from his party to Congress, then flies back home to Jennifer and their two kids for the weekend.
In a tough year, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged to add 10 new members to the Democratic side of the House of Representatives, Scalise proudly says he out-fundraised Pelosi and the leader of “the squad,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. His online fundraising adds a cool million dollars a month for the last two years to support the National Republican Congressional Committee and Republican candidates directly.
And while everyone likes to track the flow of the Benjamins, politics is about showing up: In the three weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 election, Scalise attended events in 35 different districts covering 15 states. He actually did seven of those states in three days. Try that while you’re also running for reelection back in Louisiana.
Scalise helped grow the Republican Party’s diversity in the House. Of the House races that have been called, there are 17 newly elected Republican women. Two races are still outstanding, Claudia Tenney in New York’s 22nd Congressional District and Mariannette Miller-Meeks in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.
With only the races that are currently called, Republicans will have 28 female members. If both Tenney and Miller-Meeks win, there will be a record high of 30 Republican women in the House.
Scalise has also campaigned and raised money for successful Black and Hispanic Republican candidates.
Scalise and his whip team, which includes 80 House members, are already working to help Senate Leader Mitch McConnell in Georgia runoffs as the Republicans work to maintain control of the U.S. Senate.
Meantime, Scalise is already working to recruit candidates for the 2022 midterm elections when the Republicans believe they can win back control of the House.
Former state Rep. Quentin Dastugue said he was the youngest person to represent one of Jefferson Parish’s districts made up of some of the oldest voters. Scalise followed Dastugue into that seat for his first public office as a youngster, but not younger than Dastugue was. Now at 55, Steve Scalise is near the top of his profession in Congress.
As such, he is in a position to deliver much-needed funding for important projects in his district, where he remains popular: Scalise received the highest percentage of votes this year of anyone running in Louisiana’s delegation, 72%.
So, while every elected Democrat in Louisiana is angling for a position in a Biden administration after only delivering 40% of the state’s votes, Scalise is busy doing the day-to-day hard work of growing and diversifying his minority party into the majority party they hope to get back to in 2022.
Email Garey Forster at Garey.Forster@gmail.com.