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Roskam fails in bid to become new House majority whip

Rep. Peter Roskam R-Ill. House Republican chief deputy whip speaks reporter about House GOP whip race Thursday. |  Associated

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., the House Republican chief deputy whip, speaks to a reporter about the House GOP whip race on Thursday. | Associated Press Photo

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Updated: June 19, 2014 5:54PM

WASHINGTON — Peter Roskam, R-Ill., failed in a bid to win the No. 3 spot in House GOP leadership on Thursday, the biggest setback yet in a congressional career where his trajectory had only been up since coming to the chamber in 2007.

Roskam, the chief deputy whip, was defeated on the first ballot by Rep. Steve Scalise, from Louisiana, who built a powerhouse organization which including two Illinois members — Rep. Aaron Schock and Rep. John Shimkus.

Shimkus, who rooms with Scalise in Washington, was one of a number of strong Scalise supporters who actually marched in behind Scalise as he entered the Longworth House Office Building room where the balloting took place.

Illinois Reps. Rodney Davis and Randy Hultgren backed Roskam and the sixth member of the Illinois GOP House delegation, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, did not take a public position.

Thursday marked a double defeat for Roskam, who is the appointed chief deputy whip. Scalise is almost certain to pick someone from his own team to be his chief deputy.

The balloting among Republican House members was done in secret and no official results were announced.

There was a long-shot third candidate, Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, who might have forced a second round of voting in order for the winner to clinch with a majority.

But that was not to be.

Roskam, from Wheaton, looked sad and deflated when he emerged from the Longworth room where members picked Scalise to be the new No. 3 and promoted the man who currently has the whip job, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, to the No. 2 spot of majority leader.

The leadership elections were triggered by the surprise defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia Republican primary. Cantor will vacate his leadership position on July 31.

Speaking to several reporters, Roskam said, “In light of the decision I am wholeheartedly pleased to support Steve Scalise. . . . He did a very good job and that is foreshadowing that he can be a very good whip.

“Today is a day to celebrate Steve Scalise. . . . Let’s focus on Steve, and I am committed to helping him succeed. . . . Today is Steve Scalise day.”

Roskam will continue to hold his seat on the Ways and Means Committee and still has another high-profile assignment: He is on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which will hold hearings later this year.

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