House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) will vie to replace Eric Cantor as majority leader next week.
Sessions told The Washington Post’s Robert Costa on Thursday he will run for majority leader and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) will not run.
McCarthy is the heavy favourite to prevail over Sessions in the wake of Cantor’s stunning GOP primary loss to economics professor Dave Brat on Tuesday night. Cantor announced Wednesday he would resign as majority leader effective July 31. A McCarthy win would keep the Republican establishment entrenched in the top two spots of House leadership.
“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,” Hensarling said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
Hensarling’s decision to stay out of the race is a blow for conservatives, who were emboldened amid Cantor’s defeat and called for more conservative blood in leadership. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan), one of the most prominent conservative critics of leadership, tweeted Wednesday night that he was “praying” for Hensarling to run.
“I think they need to get some sort of conservative in there,” one House GOP aide told Business Insider. “I think McCarthy could do OK, but there is going to be pressure to get the whip job to someone with a real conservative reputation.”
The coming race to replace McCarthy as majority whip likely will take over the spotlight now, and it could be where a more conservative candidate enters leadership. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), a conservative favourite, and the more establishment-aligned Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Illinois) are expected to be the two major candidates.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.