Rep. Steve Scalise rules out 2019 challenge to Gov. John Bel Edwards

June 12–WASHINGTON — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said Tuesday he won’t be running for governor of Louisiana in 2019, ruling himself out as a potential candidate to unseat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Scalise was asked if there was “any chance you run for governor of Louisiana in 2019” at an event hosted by the Washington news organization POLITICO.

“No,” Scalise answered bluntly, reiterating that response when asked to confirm there was “no way” he’d run.

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Scalise, a Jefferson Parish Republican and the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, is widely seen as a potential successor to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who’s retiring at the end of the year.

But some politicos in Louisiana had speculated Scalise might mount a campaign for the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge against Edwards, a Democrat, if Republicans fail to hold their House majority in this fall’s midterm elections, something that would put the speaker’s gavel in the hands of a Democrat and could upend the GOP’s leadership ranks.

A pair of other Louisiana Republicans on Capitol Hill — Sen. John Kennedy U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham of Alto — are contemplating 2019 campaigns for governor, though neither has definitively announced their intentions.

Abraham has made clear his interest in running for governor but hasn’t gone as far as officially declaring his candidacy.

Kennedy, meanwhile, has demurred whenever asked about a potential run, doing little to tamp down speculation but refusing to tip his hand.

Other Republicans who’ve been considered possible candidates to challenge Edwards include Attorney General Jeff Landry, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt and Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and one-time chief of staff to former Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The ambitious 52-year-old Scalise, a former Louisiana state legislator who’s risen rapidly in Washington since arriving in 2008, nearly died a year ago when a gunman opened fire on GOP lawmakers during a practice for a charity baseball game.

Scalise was shot once through the hip with a high-powered rifle round. He said at Tuesday morning’s event that his surgeons later told him they feared he wouldn’t survive the hours after the shooting.

This year’s charity Congressional Baseball Game will be played Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the attack, at the Washington Nationals’ ballpark in D.C.

Scalise called his return to the U.S. House of Representatives in September after spending three months in the hospital one of the greatest and most memorable moments of his life, likening it to his wedding day and the births of his children.

“There were days when I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do that,” Scalise said.

The near-death experience, Scalise said, “put a lot more focus” on the things that are most important in his life — first among them his family.

“But then, No. 2, to be able to able to get back and do the job I love,” Scalise said. “I really did love doing my job serving southeast Louisiana in Congress and serving as majority whip in leadership.”

That day on the baseball field put a stronger focus on the things that matter: my family and serving the people of Southeast Louisiana.

This article provided by NewsEdge.