Roskam down, Schock up: House whip takeaways

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter Roskam’s defeat for GOP House whip puts him in the back of a line of ambitious rivals seeking leadership posts, a setback of at least two years, unless he catches a break along the way.

The Wheaton Republican can come back, but it will take a while. In the meantime, Roskam’s got repair work to do with his Illinois GOP House colleagues, three of whom did not publicly support him in the Thursday contest won by Rep. Steve Scalise R-La.

My other takeaways:


Roskam invoked his mentor, the late Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., in his ill-fated whip bid and he could take a cue from Hyde’s career. Hyde is in the history books not because of being in a leadership post most people never heard of and could care less about but because of his legislative work, including the well-known anti-abortion Hyde Amendment. Hyde was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when the panel impeached President Bill Clinton and later was the chair of the House International Relations Committee.

Roskam, who will also lose his plum appointed post as chief deputy whip, has a spot on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also tapped Roskam for the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

So Roskam has a lot of possibilites, once he shakes off getting thumped by Scalise. Of course a lot depends on whether Republican Bruce Rauner is elected governor and if Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill. changes his mind for some reason and decides not to seek another term in 2016.

Knocked off his pedestal, Roskam may want, as a start, to rebuild relations within the delegation.


Rep. Aaron Schock was an early and public Scalise supporter, pulling out the stops. Schock vaulted over Roskam this week and now is the rising star in the Illinois GOP delegation. Rep. Adam Kinzinger is just behind.

Even before the whip race, I’ve regarded Schock and Roskam as rivals within the Illinois delegation; both are on the Ways and Means Committee and are bursting with ambition.

Schock shot ahead with this one, even if Scalise does not tap him for chief deputy whip. Whatever is in Schock’s future, he is far more Illinois-oriented than Roskam.

Schock recently chaired a massive fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which stirred speculation he may be on a short list for a NRCC leadership spot. Schock, from a central Illinois district, is on the up, in a position to help Rauner win the Illinois governor’s race and help former Rep. Bobby Schilling stage a comeback in his uphill rematch against Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.


Rep. John Shimkus, from a southern Illinois district, is a winner here. Shimkus backed Scalise, though unlike Schock, he tried to keep his support quiet as he worked for him behind the scenes.

Shimkus told me, as he was marching in with the Scalise team to the Thursday vote, that he was backing Scalise, who is his Washington roommate.

On the personal and political side, Shimkus had more to gain by going with Scalise than sticking with Roskam out of home-state loyalty.

The main ambition of Shimkus, who is the longest-serving Illinois House GOP member in the delegation, is to become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. His pal Scalise is on that panel, as is Kinzinger.


Kinzinger stayed out of the fray, remaining neutral in public. That still made obvious to everyone however, Kinzinger’s lack of public support for Roskam.

This is tempered a bit because Kinzinger also opted out of getting involved in leadership races in the past. He is just not that interested in being part of the inside game, which is what leadership contests are all about.

Kinzinger will not be climbing the House leadership ladder, and that’s fine with him.

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