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House Majority Whip and U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) greets United States Vice President Mike Pence at the National WWII Museum during a fundraising dinner in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.

Long before he left the Louisiana Legislature for Congress, Steve Scalise developed a reputation as a team player. It’s one reason he stayed in Baton Rouge as long as he did.

The popular state representative from Jefferson Parish could have run for Congress after House Speaker-elect Bob Livingston abruptly resigned in late 1998, when word got out in the midst of the Clinton impeachment that he too had strayed from his marriage.

Instead, Scalise joined much of the Republican establishment and backed former Gov. Dave Treen, on the theory that Treen would prevent either a Democrat or David Duke from emerging out of a large open primary field, reclaim his old seniority from an earlier stint in Congress, and not stick around too long. But the plan was thwarted when another young lawmaker from Jefferson Parish, David Vitter, ran and won instead.

In those days, Scalise was the anti-Vitter, the guy who got along with everyone and looked out for the group as well as himself. If there was consolation to Vitter’s win, it was that he had higher ambitions than the House, and soon enough, he was off running for U.S. Senate.

That 2004 contest to replace Vitter would have been Scalise’s to lose, if not for another me-first type.

Bobby Jindal was fresh off an impressive but losing bid for governor and looking to land someplace until he could run again. Scalise had been an enthusiastic supporter of Jindal’s campaign, but no matter. The Baton Rouge native moved to Kenner, planted his flag in the 1st District, and basically cut in line.

It wasn’t until 2008, after Jindal had been elected governor, that Scalise finally got his chance. He made much of it, again by making friends in Washington and looking out for the party's interests. His first major post was as head of the Republican Study Committee, a large caucus of conservatives. He parlayed that role into the election as House majority whip, the leadership’s vote-counter and, in his case, a bridge between more establishment players and the conservatives who sometimes balked at their policy choices.

But with Paul Ryan’s imminent retirement and the speakership once more up for grabs, it’s possible that Scalise’s team-player days are over.

Grace Notes: This freshman U.S. Rep. from Louisiana is already gunning for leadership post

There are two big moving parts to the story. One is the Republicans’ struggle to retain the House’s majority against strong Democratic headwinds. The second is the identity of the GOP’s next top dog in the House, no matter which party triumphs in November.

On both fronts, Scalise is playing offense.

Two notices that came out of the campaign Friday morning attest to that. One detailed how he “hit the ground running” in August to help vulnerable colleagues, raised $3 million over the course of the month and $1.4 million alone at an event in New Orleans with Vice President Mike Pence. Getting Republicans re-elected wouldn’t just preserve the majority but would also make the individual members grateful, the theory goes, and more likely to support a Scalise bid for speaker.

The second announcement was that Scalise, who has his own reelection this fall but is expected to win handily, had hired a new political director who once worked for another House Speaker, John Boehner.

This came as Politico, which chronicles congressional politics as closely as any new organization, published a story predicting a coming power struggle between Scalise and guy ahead of him in line this time, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has also been traveling the country on behalf of his embattled colleagues.

Ryan has endorsed McCarthy as his successor, and Scalise has said in public that he’d back him. But behind the scenes, there’s speculation that McCarthy wouldn’t win over the party’s more conservative members, and that Scalise would. If McCarthy falters, you can bet that Scalise will be ready to step up.

And one way to nudge things in that direction is to make sure everyone knows it.

Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.