The Corner

Who Is Steve Scalise?

I didn’t weigh in on the House majority whip race ahead of time, but for anybody wanting to get a better sense of who Steve Scalise is, I wrote about him twice at The American Spectator, way back when. I first told (in 2008) how I had followed his career since he emerged from LSU in 1989, and my headline called him a “Conservative Star Ascendant.” The pithiest description came from his predecessor in the Louisiana state legislature, Quentin Dastugue: ”What struck me,” Dastugue told me, “was he was always pure to his conservative ideals. And he showed a maturity kind of rare in younger people entering public office.”

Four years later, when he was running to lead the Republican Study Committee, I weighed in again. Scalise summed up his approach to me by saying legislators “need to actually advance the conservative agenda. We need to actually focus on implementing conservative solutions.”

Scalise is a rare breed — a genial fighter. He will charge at his goals, and then not back off, like a bulldog. But, to borrow a line from Mike Huckabee, he knows how to be a conservative “without being mad about it.” How he performs as whip will depend partly on how well he hires and manages staff, and how well he smooths over any bitterness left over from his races for whip and for chairman of the Republican Study Committee. But nobody will outwork him, and nobody can claim anything other than that he is the most conservative member in the top three of House Republican leadership since Dick Armey. I’m predicting that his endeavors as whip will be successful — for the Republican party, for conservatives, and for the country.

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