Less than twelve hours after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning primary loss on Tuesday to grass-roots, Tea Party-esque challenger Dave Brat, the race to replace the majority leader began. Rumors spread that several candidates would be willing to run or would run. The top four names were Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Sessions, and Kevin McCarthy.
McMorris-Rodgers seemed like a wise choice. Currently, she is the House Republican conference chair and the highest-ranking Republican woman in leadership. She is from Washington’s Fifth Congressional District, and is well respected by many of her peers. If she ran, she would be the perfect counter to the “war on women” mantra that the left uses against Republicans. However, despite these qualifications, McMorris-Rodgers declined to run in a statement to Robert Costa of the Washington Post.
Hensarling of Texas’s Fifth Congressional District was also a viable candidate. Hensarling is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Many saw him as a Tea Party favorite. He is extremely conservative, which could inject some red meat into the leadership. While there were rumors of a possible campaign launch, Hensarling confirmed to Politico this morning that he will not be running for leader.
That leaves a race of two: Sessions and McCarthy.
Pete Sessions has declared that he will be running. Sessions is well-known in Congress. Many see him as an establishment type, with a lot of inside-the-Beltway knowledge. As the former chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Sessions campaigned and raised money for many of the current members. This gives him a lot of power—and potential favors to call in.
Currently though, according to Rob Costa, the leading man is McCarthy. Kevin McCarthy from California’s Twenty-third Congressional District is the man to beat. As the current Majority Whip, he has been a major Boehner ally and secured votes for the speaker’s agenda in the House. Seen as the ultimate insider and having negotiated with most members, McCarthy will have plenty of skill when it comes to persuading members to support him. He already scored a major victory this morning with several major endorsements. Costa writes:
In a signal that McCarthy is quickly consolidating support, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the GOP’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, said he would support McCarthy. “Jeb’s not in, and I was waiting for him” before weighing in, Ryan said, before adding: “Kevin McCarthy has my vote.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who is whipping up support for McCarthy, said he believes the Californian has secured the votes needed to win. “He’s got this pretty wrapped up,” Kinzinger said. “I think he had this wrapped up pretty quick. …At the end of the day I think McCarthy has got this one over the top.”
With all the insider meetings occurring in the Capitol right now between Team Sessions and Team McCarthy, the rest of America is sick of the “good old boy” politics. Instead of the same old same old, why not have some fresh blood and new perspective in leadership? With the Tea Party beating the number two in the House, one would think the establishment would learn.