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Local politics


Stutzman in race for House majority whip


Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, said Wednesday he wants to see a “red-state conservative” as the next House majority whip.

By Thursday, he reportedly had decided he is that person.

Stutzman told Howey Politics Indiana that he will run for the No. 3 leadership post if the current whip, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, replaces Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was upset in Tuesday’s GOP primary election in Virginia.

“I’m just getting started,” Stutzman told Howey Politics Indiana on Thursday morning. “I was up really late last night making calls. There will be a lot happening in the next few days.”

Stutzman’s office did not respond to The Journal Gazette’s repeated requests for comment Thursday.

Staff legislative director Will Young said Thursday evening that Stutzman will be available for comment today.

On Wednesday, when The Journal Gazette asked Stutzman in a telephone interview whether he would be interested in running for whip, he said: “I don’t think so. I’m not going to say no to anything.”

But he also said, “We’re watching to see how the dominoes fall.”

A whip is responsible for “whipping” up support for party leadership positions on legislation and determining how caucus members intend to vote on bills.

Elections for majority leader and whip will be Thursday. Other reported candidates for whip are Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, the chief deputy whip, and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who heads the conservative Republican Study Committee.

“Conservatives were looking for somebody to run” for whip, Stutzman told Politico. “We needed a name, and I have a good relationship with a lot of folks in the conference.”

Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser wrote Thursday: “Stutzman is close with House conservatives, which could dip into the constituency Scalise is counting on to vote for him in order to best Roskam.”

Newhauser noted that Stutzman is the only member of the GOP class of 2010, which gave Republicans a House majority, to pursue a leadership post after Cantor’s defeat.

Cantor has said he will step down as majority leader July 31.

GOP leaders removed Stutzman as an assistant whip last year after he voted against party rules for amending and debating the farm bill.

Stutzman, a LaGrange County corn and soybean farmer, for months has confirmed his interest in succeeding Scalise as leader of the Republican Study Committee, a position that raised the conservative profile of Gov. Mike Pence when he was in Congress in the 2000s. Stutzman is chairman of the committee’s Second Amendment Initiative, a gun-rights caucus.

A person close to the Indiana congressional delegation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Stutzman is being given little chance of beating either Scalise or Roskam for whip. But the person said Stutzman’s candidacy “is right out of his career playbook.”

As a 32-year-old state lawmaker, Stutzman was an announced candidate for the U.S. Senate before Democratic incumbent Evan Bayh revealed he would not seek re-election. Stutzman finished a surprising second place in the 2010 GOP primary election won by Sen. Dan Coats.

Weeks later, Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, resigned after acknowledging he’d had a sexual relationship with a part-time staff member. Stutzman shortly thereafter won a 15-candidate caucus election to become the 3rd District nominee in the general election, which he easily won.