Despite terrible loss of Republican Eric Cantor in primary race some his fellow partitians are nevertheless making a mad dash for his post as majority leader.
Rumors had been swirling in the halls of Congress on Wednesday over who might make a bid for the second-most powerful House slot. During a conference meeting, Republican leaders announced that elections would take place on June 19, though nobody discussed candidates.
By Thursday morning, the situation had become more or less clear. GOP sources familiar with the matter revealed to reporters that Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) was telling colleagues he had no plans to run for the No. 2 spot, giving the way for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Hensarling made it official later Thursday.
“Although I am humbled by the calls, emails, and conversations from my colleagues encouraging me to return to leadership for the remainder of the 113th Congress, I will not be a candidate for Majority Leader next week,” he said in a statement.
“After prayerful reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right office at the right time for me and my family. I look forward to working with the new Majority Leader to fight for a freer, stronger, more prosperous America as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee and the Representative of the Fifth District of Texas.”
Another potential candidate, GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), removed herself from the running Wednesday.
McCarthy has quickly racked up a near-majority against Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), McCarthy’s lone rival. The vote next week will be held by secret ballot, and Congress members have been known in the past to commit to voting one way and flipping in private.
However, McCarthy has already locked in some major endorsements. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) voiced his support on Thursday, soon after Cantor announced that he supported McCarthy as well.
“If my dear friend and colleague Kevin McCarthy does decide to run, I think he’d make an outstanding majority leader,” Cantor told reporters. “I will be backing him with my full support.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stood away from any endorsements on Thursday, despite being pressed on whether he’d want McCarthy by his side.
“I do think that the members are going to make this decision,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly press conference. “I’ve worked with all 434 other members of Congress before, I can work with whoever gets elected.”
Meanwhile, Sessions was confident he could still compete with McCarthy for the majority leader post.
“It’s important that the American people understand what our agenda is, and I think I can help clarify that a bit more,” Sessions said Wednesday, reminding people that he is chairman of the House Rules Committee and previously led the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“I understood how to build a majority when you’re 40 back and brought us net 63,” Sessions said, referring to the 2010 midterm elections.
“I know how to raise money … I know how to travel hard. I know how to travel smartly. I am going to bring those best practices that I know that people agree with and work with people and want the members to know that they could expect the same energy from me again.”
Sessions called it “a terrible, terrible, bitter pill” to see Cantor lose, but said it’s time for someone to refocus the party on “winning.” And politically, he argued, that means veering further to the right.