As I wrote about a few days ago, US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his primary to a disgruntled member of the Tea Party. Ostensibly, he would continue in that post until January of next year, but Cantor made headlines shortly thereafter by announcing his tentative resignation from the leadership post, effective upon the election of his successor, likely in the next six weeks. Immediately, a leadership scramble ensued between the “next in line,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and a slew of opponents, both more conservative and (possibly) more pragmatic.
First, the National Journal reported that Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Rep. Pete Session (R-TX), both Texas Republicans, had tossed their hats into the ring for Cantor’s post. Both are prominent members of the Tea Party and have not pulled many punches against the establishment. Accordingly, it did not make much sense the next day when both Texans promptly pulled out of the leadership race, leaving McCarthy as the only candidate. As the Majority Whip of the House, McCarthy holds the same position as Frank Underwood on the first season of House of Cards. However, unlike Underwood, who was (Spoiler Alert!!!) notoriously ruthless and even murderous to achieve his goals, McCarthy likes to compare himself to a camp counselor more than some sort of nefarious, Machiavellian villain.
Meanwhile, Politico reports that McCarthy will not get off scot-free in his bid for leadership. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) will seek the post as well. Labrador, who is one of a handful of Hispanic Republican congressmen, has a mildly pragmatic record on the subject of immigration reform. He was supportive of the bipartisan proposal drafted last year that included a pathway to citizenship. He is only a second-term Congressman, though he has some grassroots support. On other issues, however, Labrador is a wool-in-the-dye Tea Partier. Difficult to ascertain how the House would split on this vote, but assuming McCarthy and Labrador are the only candidates, I would reckon McCarthy is the odds-on favorite. The vote is reportedly next week.
Of course, if McCarthy is elected, then there is a whole new race for Majority Whip. Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) will run for this post. Roskam is a more pragmatic, establishment Republican, whereas Scalise represents the
lollipop guild Tea Party. The Washington Post reports that, given these two options, Scalise is the front-runner. Recent reports also note that Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) will also run, who is one of the more zealous Tea Party sympathizers.
Politico also recently noted that Sessions could still jump back into the fray by seeking the Whip’s post, as could Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA). All five of these people are White men, for what it is worth.