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Steve Scalise is a veteran of House GOP leadership. Now he hopes to be speaker

By Clare Foran, CNN

(CNN) — House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has risen through the ranks of leadership during his time in Congress. Next, the Louisiana Republican hopes to be elected House speaker.

In the position of House majority leader, Scalise has served as the second-highest-ranking House Republican after Kevin McCarthy. Now House Republicans have selected him as the nominee for speaker after McCarthy was pushed out of the top leadership role in a historic vote.

McCarthy’s ouster and decision not to run again for speaker stunned House Republicans and threatens to intensify bitter divisions within the conference. While Scalise won the nomination over Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan on Wednesday in a 113 to 99 vote, it remains unclear if the caucus will be able to coalesce around a successor and meet the 217-vote threshold to secure the speaker’s gavel.

Jordan had gained a key endorsement from former President Donald Trump on Friday.

Scalise and Jordan both supported objections to electoral college results when Congress met to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win on January 6, 2021, the same day a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol seeking to overturn the election.

Scalise is a prominent figure in the House GOP conference and has long been seen as either a potential successor, or rival, to McCarthy. Before he became majority leader, Scalise served as House GOP whip, a role focused on vote counting and ensuring support for key party priorities. The majority leader, his current role, oversees the House floor and schedules legislation for votes.

The Louisiana Republican is no stranger to adversity – which he alluded to in announcing his bid for speaker.

A shooting in 2017 left him seriously wounded, with a grueling, monthslong recovery process. Scalise was shot by a gunman who opened fire as congressional Republicans were practicing for an annual charity baseball game.

In August, Scalise announced that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which he described as “a very treatable blood cancer.” In September, Scalise told reporters that in response to treatment, his cancer “has dropped dramatically.”

In a letter to colleagues asking for their support in the speaker’s race, Scalise referenced the shooting as well as “new challenges.”

“I firmly believe this conference is a family. When I was shot in 2017, it was members of this conference who saved my life on that field,” he said.

“I love this country, and I believe we were sent here to come together and solve the immense challenges we face. As I face new challenges, I feel even more strongly about that today.”

Scalise was elected to Congress in 2008 and represents Louisiana’s First Congressional District. He previously served in the Louisiana state legislature and holds a degree in computer science.

In 2014, Scalise faced intense blowback for having given a speech in 2002 to a White supremacist group founded by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. Scalise apologized and said in a statement that speaking to the group “was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold.”

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