Scalise, who’s given $3.4 million to members and candidates so far this cycle on top of $25 million to the House GOP campaign wing, predicted to a friendly crowd in Bay City, Mich., that “on November 9, you might be waking up late because you were out at the victory party really, really late.”
Unmentioned amid Scalise’s pre-election celebration was what awaits him and House Republicans’ agenda next year if they do capture the chamber. The Louisianan, who’s set to become majority leader should his party reclaim the House, repeatedly asserted to crowds that the conference’s “Commitment to America” blueprint shows “exactly” what they’d do in the majority — yet party leaders still haven’t drilled down into the details.
And the general promises they’ve made won’t be so simple to fulfill once they take power. For now, though, Scalise and his crew of rising Republican lawmakers were content with avoiding the messy details of legislating.
Asked about concessions the House GOP might seek on a future debt limit vote, for instance, Scalise said simply that “now is not the time to negotiate the debt limit,” arguing that the Biden administration hasn’t yet genuinely sought to meet and work with House GOP leadership. “There’s things we want to address.”
He went on to describe his four-day-a-week sprint during the pre-election month as helping give “one final jolt of energy” to cash-hungry candidates in close races.
“You’re raising all your money prior to Labor Day to spend it all in a short period of time when people really start focusing on an election,” Scalise said. “And so, it’s those final days, where everybody is just worn to the edges.”
That gave Scalise’s swing a much different vibe than the large rallies and open events that are common in the earlier months of a campaign. To convince GOP donors to open up their frayed pocketbooks one last time, Scalise was ushered before small groups of supporters and candidates who saw his presence in their district as a sign of burgeoning GOP influence.
On Tuesday, Scalise joined Michigan GOP candidate Paul Junge and roughly 40 supporters who flocked to a windowless meeting room in a local manufacturing plant to hear Scalise and Junge talk about serving as a check on the Biden administration. Junge, a former Trump administration official, is working to oust Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee, whose family has represented the area for more than 40 years — though the seat became competitive after redistricting.
Then Scalise pushed on to stump in the Detroit suburbs for Tom Barrett, a Michigan state senator who’s looking to unseat Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in the state’s newly drawn 7th Congressional District. Slotkin is one of 31 Democrats who helped power her party to the majority in 2018 but now face existential threats during a midterm that’s swinging away from them.
Barrett and Slotkin are on pace to have one of the most expensive House races of the midterms, with millions of dollars dropped on the airwaves each month. Underscoring the intensity of the campaign, Scalise’s crew was joined at the Barrett event by Michigan GOP candidate John James, Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) and former Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.).
Scalise and his colleagues tuned into the Fetterman-Oz debate on their way from Michigan to Utica, where they appeared at a bar event for New York GOP candidate Brandon Williams before pushing on to Binghamton, where they stopped by a country club event for Republican hopeful Marc Molinaro.
Both Williams and Molinaro are vying against Democratic challengers for swing seats; Williams is running against Francis Conole for retiring Rep. John Katko’s (R-N.Y.) seat, and Molinaro is squaring off against Josh Riley to represent a newly drawn district that includes part of the Hudson Valley.
In separate interviews, Junge, Barrett and Molinaro all touted their ability to draw the likely future House majority leader as a sign their races are in play. One Michigan GOP official even excitedly accepted an autographed Commitment to America one-pager from Scalise.