Scott po­si­tioned to rise up in GOP

The Covington News - - Front page - By Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ma­con) has been mak­ing the na­tional me­dia rounds the past two weeks, shar­ing his views on the up­com­ing year af­ter be­ing voted pres­i­dent of the largest Repub­li­can Con­gres­sional fresh­man class in U.S. his­tory.

Scott de­feated Demo­cratic in­cum­bent Jim Mar­shall in the Nov. 2 elec­tion and his vic­tory has been hailed as an ex­am­ple of vot­ers’ de­sire to see a re­turn to fis­cal con­ser­va­tion. He rep­re­sents the Eighth Con­gres­sional District, which con­tains most of Newton County and por­tions of 20 other coun­ties in cen­tral and south­ern Ge­or­gia.

Scott was joined by 86 fel­low fresh­man Repub­li­cans that helped tipped the bal­ance of power in the U.S. House to­ward the GOP.

“Well, cer­tainly, we've got mem­bers from all over the coun­try, and we have dif­fer­ent ideas, al­though we

have a tremen­dous amount of re­spect for how we got here. And we un­der­stand that it wasn't, in many cases, that we won as much as it is that they lost be­cause the Democrats lost the re­spect and the trust of the gen­eral pub­lic,” Scott said dur­ing a Jan. 4 ap­pear­ance on Fox News. “ So one of the things we, as the fresh­men, class have to do is to come in and to be to­tally hon­est with peo­ple and earn that trust back.”

The Washington Post named Scott one of 10 fresh­man rep­re­sen­ta­tives to watch.

“ Scott was one of a large hand­ful of South­ern Repub­li­cans who ousted Blue Dog Democrats in the Novem­ber elec­tions. His vic­tory over fourterm Rep. Jim Mar­shall ( D) her­alded a ma­jor shift in South­ern pol­i­tics and helped tip the House to Repub­li­cans,” the Post wrote on Jan. 5. “ Scott's col­leagues seem to un­der­stand that his leg­isla­tive savvy will come in handy on Capi­tol Hill: They picked him as their class pres­i­dent.”

Chris Grant, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at Mercer Uni­ver­sity lo­cated in Scott’s district, said Scott’s nom­i­na­tion as class pres­i­dent didn’t give him any ad­di­tional power, but shed light on the path his ca­reer could take.

“ Given the size of the fresh­man class, more than usual with a third of the Repub­li­can cau­cus, that prob­a­bly gives him some se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion and gives him more play with lead­er­ship than a fresh­man nor­mally would have,” Grant said in a phone in­ter­view.

Grant said that the size of the class com­bined with House Speaker John Boehner’s shep­herd­ing style will give fresh­man rep­re­sen­ta­tives more in­flu­ence than usual.

As for be­ing a party spokesper­son, Grant said Scott is young and good look­ing and has a more rea­son­able tone than other fresh­man. “ He sounds sin­cere,” Grant said.

Re­gard­ing whether Scott’s elec­tion sig­nals a ma­jor shift in south­ern pol­i­tics, Grant said Scott’s district has his­tor­i­cally leaned Repub­li­can.

“ The district just went back to its norm. The shift in South­ern pol­i­tics came four years ago and 20 years ago,” Grant said. “ The Repub­li­cans did show they’re not even tol­er­at­ing Blue Dog Democrats now.”

Grant did say that Mar­shall’s loss does elim­i­nate the last of the white Democrats in the South.

“ You can go from Char­lotte to Hous­ton now, leav­ing out Florida, and you will not see a white Demo­crat elected to Congress any­more,” he said.

Be­cause of his pop­u­lar­ity, Scott will have a chance to move quickly up the party’s ranks, which could lead to more perks for res­i­dents of his district. As far as the is­sues, Scott has al­ready voted to re­peal the health bill, but Grant said the truly in­ter­est­ing votes will be on fi­nan­cial is­sues, like whether to raise the debt ceil­ing.


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