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Polls Show Steve Scalise a Slight Favorite To Replace Ryan as House Speaker

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It’s still far from clear who will take over from Paul Ryan as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives should Republicans retain control of the chamber after the November election.

But according to a poll released this week by Politico and Morning Consult, Louisiana’s U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise may have the inside track to taking over the powerful post.

The online poll, which was conducted over the course of Aug. 10 to 12, asked 1,992 registered voters a variety of political questions. For the House speaker question, they were asked if they would like to see Scalise, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., or Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, take the job if Republicans maintain their majority.

Of the respondents, 66 percent chose “don’t know/no opinion” and another 10 percent indicated they’d prefer someone other than Scalise, McCarthy or Jordan. Scalise was the choice of 10 percent of the respondents, Jordan took 7 percent and McCarthy managed 6 percent.

Another polling question asked who respondents would prefer as speaker if Democrats take control of the House. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the last Democrat speaker, led with 16 percent support, while Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, had 11 percent and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer trailed with 4 percent.

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Scalise saw his support jump to 18 percent among respondents who have a “very favorable” opinion of President Donald Trump, followed closely by Jordan at 17 percent. His support declined to just 7 percent for those with a “very unfavorable” opinion of the president, but that number still led McCarthy at 4 percent and Jordan at 3 percent.

Other groups that showed relatively strong support for Scalise were respondents with an income above $100,000, Catholics, protestants, retirees and those who had served in the military. Respondents whose top issue was national security or Medicare and Social Security tended to favor Scalise, while Jordan took a small lead for those whose top issue was education or energy.

McCarthy eked out a 1 percent lead among those who were most concerned about the economy.

The poll reported a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.

Do you think Steve Scalise would be a good House Speaker?

Scalise saw his national profile rise after he narrowly survived a shooting in June 2017 during a baseball practice featuring a number of Republican lawmakers in Virginia. After suffering serious injuries and a long hospitalization, he returned to the House in September and has since been seen as one of the president’s top allies in Congress.

As the majority whip, Scalise became the highest ranking member of Congress this summer to support the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Johnson and fellow Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows, R-N.C., filed articles of impeachment alleging that Rosenstein was stonewalling congressional investigations of possible political bias within the Justice Department and the U.S. intelligence community.

“Frankly, it is mind-boggling that (the Justice Department) won’t comply,” Scalise said during a Fox News interview in July. “They ought to want to work with us to root out the bad apples, and if putting impeachment on the table as one more tool gets them to finally comply with the subpoenas from Congress, we need to make sure that they do their job and they comply and they show the American people exactly what’s going on.”

Scalise stated publicly in the spring, shortly after Ryan announced that he would be stepping down as speaker at the conclusion of his term, that he would not run for speaker if McCarthy pursues the position. But McCarthy’s viability as a candidate for the post has been questioned since he was already forced to withdraw the previous time the position came open, after the resignation of former Speaker John Boehner of Ohio in 2015.

A fellow Republican congressman from Louisiana, Rep. Ralph Abraham, has publicly touted Scalise as a possible speaker candidate already.

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“Steve Scalise is a great leader,” Abraham wrote on Twitter in April. “Should he run for Speaker, the House will get a strong conservative at the helm, and Louisiana will have a powerful ally.”

A version of this article appeared on Watchdog.org.

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