Steve Scalise wins race for RSC chair

Following Rep. Tom Price’s disappointing defeat in the race for chair of the House Republican Conference, an early indicator of how the GOP plans to work in the next Congress, conservatives looking to keep some measure of independence lost another leadership battle yesterday. Members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) selected Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who is viewed as an ally to Speaker John Boehner, over Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) to led the group of House conservatives:

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana is the new face of the conservative movement in the House of Representatives. At least according to the Republican Study Committee, a caucus representing the right wing of the party.

The RSC elected Scalise to be their new chairman Thursday, taking over from Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. Scalise beat Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia for the position, despite the fact that the committee’s founders and past chairmen came out in support of Graves.

“From the beginning I felt like this ought to be a member-driven organization and the members should decide who’s the next chairman,” Scalise told the Alley.

Scalise said that Graves ran a great campaign for the position and that the major differences between the two of them was not in policy but in leadership style.

“The American people chose the Republican House to serve as the only line of defense against Barack Obama’s liberal agenda, and the RSC must stand tall as the conservative rudder, steering the House towards more conservative solutions as we work to get our country back on the right track,” he said in a statement.

Over at the American Spectator, Quin Hillyer explains that either Scalise or Graves would have been a good choice to lead the RSC. But Scalise’s stated goal of working with Boehner brings great pause, especially as the negoiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” begin. While they’re all Republicans, the RSC was supposed to push fiscally conservative policies as an alternative to the status quo in the House. It was not meant to be another mouthpiece for Republican leadership, which is what Scalise could bring.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

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