Roskam: Whip race 'was a regional issue'
A week after losing his bid to become the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House, Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton said his position as a Republican from a Democratic-leaning state proved to be the deciding factor.
Roskam, of Wheaton, serves as the House's No. 4 Republican until a change in leadership next month. Rep. Steve Scalise of Alabama won the job of whip, joining the leadership trio of Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and new Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who both hail from Democratic-leaning states.
"When it all came down to it, it was a regional issue," Roskam said this week. "And the argument that prevailed was we need a southern member or we need a red state member to sit at the leadership table."
"I would tease people, 'Look I'm from the south part of Wheaton, Illinois.'" he said. "Roosevelt Road was not the Mason-Dixon Line they had in mind."
Roskam was first elected to Congress in 2006 and was named chief deputy whip in 2010. When he vacates that position next month, he'll lose a small office in the Capitol but likely won't have to cut any staff.
Roskam said he hopes Scalise succeeds and will back him. Roskam also didn't rule out another bid for a position when the new Congress takes its seats in January after the Nov. 4 election.
In the meantime, though, he said he'll continue to work on his assignment as a member of the committee charged with investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, legislation to try to help fight so-called superbug infections and calling for a special inspector to oversee the implementation of President Barack Obama's health care law.
He pointed to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's surprising primary election loss as evidence things can change quickly.
"I think January and moving forward is all a murky haze," Roskam said.
"You just can never predict what's going to be happening. I'll defer those decisions until those events are clearer to me," he said. "It hasn't changed my priorities. My priorities are the 6th District."
How close Roskam got to the whip job might never be known because fellow Republicans voted by secret ballot last week. The week after Cantor's loss and run up to the election to replace him sparked a flurry of activity in Washington among Republicans.
Roskam spent the weekend before the election calling fellow lawmakers from his suburban office. And sensing geography might be an issue, he offered to appoint a chief deputy from a red state if elected.
In the end, Scalise picked Rep. Patrick McHenry from North Carolina to be his deputy.