Power Shifts in Washington, DC

Recently I wrote about the surprising upset of Eric Cantor in the Virginia primary election. He was beaten by Dave Brat, a relative unknown. Because Cantor was serving as majority leader in the House of Representatives, a position second only to the speaker of the House, this news was earth-shattering in political circles. The follow-up was that Cantor resigned his leadership position in the House and will soon return to the rank-and-file member position, held by the vast majority of House members, for the remaining few months of his term.

As could be expected, Cantor’s resignation set off a frenzy of activity, as members jockeyed for his leadership position. Many threw in their hats one day, then changed their minds the next. In the end, two candidates vied for the post. One was Kevin McCarthy of California, who was currently the majority whip — the third position of power in the House of Representatives. The other was Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador. McCarthy won the race for majority leader, which he will assume Aug. 1, after Cantor relinquishes the position on July 31.

McCarthy’s win opened up an inside power game, as a Republican House caucus election was held for majority whip. Three candidates sought this power position: Steve Scalise from Louisiana, who won the private ballot election; Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois; and our own Indiana representative, Marlin Stutzman. While Stutzman did not ultimately win, simply being a contender was a coup on his part. As fate would have it, I was with Congressman Stutzman for a couple of hours, just two days before this historic vote occurred. Since he serves on the House Committee on Financial Services, I wondered to myself where he might be of greatest value to the bankers of Indiana. Of course the answer would be the leadership position, but it was not meant to be at this time.

Rep. Stutzman and I spoke about his efforts to seek the majority whip leadership position. He had entered the race a day or two after the other candidates, and he realized that he was the long shot. However, his being part of the discussion was a boost for his career. It gave him a chance to talk with most of the 233 Republicans in the House caucus, including those he previously had little contact with. Expanding his relationship base could very well pay off for him sometime in the future. Following the election in the fall, all of these positions will be reopening for election. While mass change does not happen often, sometimes it does. There are many questions regarding the success of Speaker John Boehner’s leadership within his caucus. He may decide not to pursue another term as speaker, or he might be ousted by a challenger. If so, who knows what the leadership chain reaction will be?

Congressman Stutzman is a quality individual. He is kind, fair, and he wants to make this country better for his two young sons for years to come. He is the type of person we all should want to see succeed. Last week, he demonstrated that he has some leadership aspirations. If ever they are fulfilled, it will be a victory for Indiana and, I believe, for our country.

– S. Joe DeHaven

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