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Steve Scalise pitches economy to help Mike Miller’s congressional run

It’s all about the booming economy, low unemployment, and cutting taxes, and keeping it rolling, Louisiana’s Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise told a rally Friday campaigning for Republican state Rep. Mike Miller‘s attempt to oust Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Well, maybe a little about baseball too.

Scalise, a candidate for the U.S. Speaker of the House position when Speaker Paul Ryan leaves at the end of this year – and also the victim of an assassination attempt last year as Republicans were wrapping up a baseball practice for an annual charity game – pushed hard Friday for the Republicans’ economic policies, including last year’s tax cuts, arguing that the country’s booming economy now is the critical reason Republicans like Miller need to be elected and Democrats like Murphy need to be ousted.

Scalise is criss-crossing the country now campaigning for Republicans with the recognition that polls show Democrats could take the U.S. House of Representatives. Miller already has pledged bhis own support for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as the next speaker. But Scalise told a rally at an airport hangar at Orlando Executive Airport Friday that the issue of concern is Republicans desire to make sure House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t become the next speaker.

“What’s at stake is a whole lot about how we are going to keep our country moving forward, or are we going to go back to the days of when Nancy Pelosi was speaker,” Scalise declared. “Go back especially to the period of 2008-2010, in that two year period they wrecked our economy with higher taxes, higher regulation, things like Dodd-Frank.”


Scalise also pushed Miller’s commitment to the military and veterans, and tore at Murphy for opposing the Right to Try Act, which Congress passed last year making it easier for patients with life-or-death diseases to get experimental drugs, and said Miller would have supported it.

Miller stressed the economy.

“He told me, you’ve got to remind voters, Stephanie Murphy voted against that stuff,” Miller told the gathering of about 100 people. “She voted against the tax cuts that led to this economic recovery. She wants to bring us back to where we were eight years ago, when we had 1 percent growth. Now there are literally hundreds of thousands of jobs that can’t be filled. Think about that, we have full employment.”

Yet in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, Miller is running from behind against Murphy, who has far more campaign money, and a record of centrist politics. The district covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County and once was reliably Republican, but that has changed, as Murphy demonstrated when she upset 12-term Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica two years ago. This year, little outside money has come into the contest, signaling perhaps that national partisan groups don’t think it’s worth investing in.

But Miller said that is about to change, and Scalise said he wouldn’t have come if there were not indications that the race was tightening up.

“I love this guy. I want to serve in Congress with this guy, but this is a winnable race. You all know this. That’s why you’re out,” Scalise said told the rally. “This race is tightening up to where we can win this race, Mike can win this race and serve in Congress.”

Scalise had been the starting second baseman for the Republicans for their annual charity Congressional baseball game against Democrats, wrapping up a practice in Virginia on June 14, 2017, when James Thomas Hodgkinson, who had expressed rage against Republicans, opened fire on people there, wounding him and three others. Scalise was shot in the hip, lost a lot of blood, suffered organ failures, and nearly died. He has since had nine surgeries. And though he now walks with a cane, took the field for the Republican’s first practice scrimmage this year.

“I’m doing really well,” Scalise told Orlando media Friday. “I’m getting better every day. I still do about two days a week of rehab to build strength back up in the left leg. Otherwise I’m going full bore. This is the ninth district I’ve been in in four days.”

Miller is a former left-handed pitcher for the University of Florida, a motif he uses in numerous ways in his campaign, including campaign baseball cards that declare he throws left and votes right. He thanked Scalise for campaigning for him by presenting him with a bat inscribed with “Team Scalise Mike Miller U.S. Congress Play Ball!”

The Republicans could use some more pitching. Everyone knows that: the Democrats scored 21 runs off them this year, and 11 last year.

“I tell you what, this guy, when I heard he was a pitcher at the University of Florida, I’m an LSU guy, but I said, ‘We’ll take the Florida Gator!'” Scalise said.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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