Tight-knit Louisiana delegation rallies around Scalise

ASHINGTON — Louisiana lawmakers said Wednesday they were shaken their colleague Steve Scalise had been shot, but they plan to rally as usual to support one of their own.

“It’s a crazy day, a bad day a sad day," Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., told the USA Today Network. “We’ll get through it as we always do.’’

Abraham said in one show of support he and others plan to attend Thursday's congressional baseball game where Scalise was supposed to play.

“I’m not on the team. I’m not that good of a baseball player,” Abraham said. But “a show of solidarity on both the Republican and Democratic side, which I think you’ll see tomorrow, will be a good thing.’’

“We’re going use this to spring board any positive way forward," he said.

Scalise, the majority whip and the 3rd in GOP leadership, is the highest ranking member of the Louisiana delegation. He was shot early Wednesday as players on a Republican congressional baseball team practiced in a suburb outside Virginia.

Reps. Garret Graves and Cedric Richmond, whose districts border Scalise’s, went to the hospital earlier Wednesday to support the majority whip and his family. Other members of the small, but tight delegation said they plan to visit later in the week.

"We are thankful that our fellow Louisianian, Steve, is going to recover and remain strong,” Graves, a Republican, said in a statement. “Today is sobering and frustrating. It is sobering because it reminds us how quickly these senseless attacks can destroy lives.”

Richmond tweeted: “Saddened by the horrific news from GOP baseball practice. My prayers are with my colleague @SteveScalise, the Capitol police officers & staff."

Richmond, the lone Democrat, is the star pitcher for the Democratic baseball team. Richmond is close to Scalise.

In one of the few light moments yesterday, a Republican congressman said he hoped Richmond would bow out of Thursday’s game.

 

“Congressman Scalise will not play tomorrow night since he was shot this morning and I did tell Congressman Doyle that it would be only fair that the Louisianian who is supposed to play shouldn’t also play — their best pitcher Cedric Richmond — but Mike says he loves us and he wants to show support but that’s asking too much,” from Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, told reporters Wednesday.

Abraham said he plans to visit later.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy said he also decided not to visit yet.

“It’s probably mass chaos over there and that’s probably the last thing they need so we’re just kind of waiting," he told the USA Today Network.

Kennedy said the delegation is pulling for Scalise and the other four victims.

“I feel awful. I feel sad, I feel mad,’’ he said. “There are media reports that this is a political hate crime. I hope those reports turn out to be wrong. I really do. If they turn out to be right, then this is, as far as I’m concerned, a new low for America.’’

MORE: Scalise shooter raged against Trump, GOP on Facebook

The seven-person delegation is particularly close and often team up to advocate for regional interest. They teamed up recently to fight for more federal aid in the wake of last year’s flooding in the state.

Louisiana lawmakers called Scalise, who served in the state legislator, a friend and mentor.

Scalise is described as “very partisan,” but “a natural for the position he’s had in the House as Whip,” said Pearson Cross, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

“He’s very much a ‘rah-rah-go-team’ kind of personality,” a people person, Cross said, who is “not known as an especially deep thinker.”

Cross said most of Louisiana’s congressional delegation are “newbies,” including the senators.

Scalise’s pro-gun stance, Cross said, is in step with the rest of the Louisiana delegation and with much of the state.  Cross said that gives Scalise the freedom to be fairly forthright in touting conservative, Republican issues.

Abraham said Scalise will be missed in the House.

“His leadership has been phenomenal,’’ he said. “In his absence, hopefully only a few weeks, he will be missed.”

“Being a small delegation and with Steve’s personality I can’t over stress how big that is,’’ Abraham said. “He’s always exuberant. He’s always positive. He always has more energy than the Energizer bunny. .. He leads and we follow… so when we travel in mass as a delegation just keeping up with Steve is an event.”

 

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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