Speculation builds about possible Scalise bid for House Speaker job

House Speaker Paul Ryan's announcement that he will not seek re-election has served to ramp up speculation

"Today I'm announcing that this year will be my last one as a member of the House," said Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

With that announcement came even more intense speculation that House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Metairie could make a bid for the post.

FOX 8 News recently asked Scalise about that possibility.

"There's a very active rumor mill up there, but I stay focused on doing my job. I'm the House Majority Whip, I get to work with all of my colleagues every day to put the coalitions together to pass our agenda," Scalise said during an interview a couple of weeks ago.

After Ryan's announcement, Scalise said in a tweet that, "Paul Ryan stepped into his role as Speaker at a critical moment, and has led our House with great Dignity."

And Scalise recently told Politico that he would not challenge the No. 2  Republican in the House leadership, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in the event the House Speaker's job came up for grabs. McCarthy previously made a bid to become House Speaker.

"So should Kevin McCarthy step aside, then I'm sure Steve Scalise would be the favorite to take that position, and even if Kevin McCarthy tries to run for the position, I think there's a lot of feelings within the Republican Caucus right now that Steve Scalise would be a better consensus candidate. So I think there's going to be a lot of pressure on Kevin McCarthy to step aside," said Dr. Robert Collins of Dillard University in New Orleans.

Collins teaches urban politics and worked on Capitol Hill when he was a staffer for former Louisiana U.S. Senators J. Bennett Johnston and John Breaux.

Collins said if Scalise, now No. 3 in the GOP House leadership, were to ascend to the House Speaker's position, Louisiana would benefit.

"In terms of getting things like coastal erosion, infrastructure projects, projects that require a large amount of money from the federal appropriation bills, but even if Republicans did lose control of the House, certainly as minority leader he would still have a great deal of influence over the appropriations process," said Collins.

And an hour after Ryan said he will retire from the Congress in January, Republican Congressman Dennis Ross of Florida also announced that he will not seek re-election.

"It is because they're looking at the numbers, they're looking at the polling data. All the analysts are saying you're going to have a blue wave. Now you know we're still a long way out from November, so we don't know exactly what's going to happen yet. It's hard to predict this far out," Collins said.

Scalise is also public about his deep friendship with Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from New Orleans.

"They work well together on issues, even though they're both very partisan, so I think there's no question it would be a boon to the state of Louisiana if you were to have Steve Scalise as Speaker of the House, or as Minority Leader, working closely with Cedric Richmond, who, if the Democrats were to take the House, then Cedric Richmond would be in the majority and would probably be looking to move up into a leadership position himself," Collins said.

From the U.S. Senate side of Capitol Hill, Sen. John Kennedy weighed in on the speculation about Scalise.

"Scalise for speaker, he would be a good one," Kennedy said.

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