Who will be the next House majority leader and whip? A look at the hopefuls.


As of Monday, the most interesting leadership race among House Republicans was scheduled for next January and was expected to feature questions about House Speaker John Boehner's future. But the GOP primary loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday changed that schedule dramatically. The Virginia congressman announced Wednesday that he is resigning his leadership position effective July 31, a decision that will force a behind-the-scenes race into the public eye. Leadership elections are slated for June 19.

The fight to replace Cantor as majority leader isn't the only leadership race going on. Assuming that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) runs for majority leader, there will be an election to replace him as majority whip, as well. Our political team is tracking the candidates, but we figured a guide to what's going on was in order.

The race for House majority leader

(Official photo)
Hensarling (Official photo)

Who: Jeb Hensarling (Tex.)
Date in: June 11
Date out: June 12
His politics
: Conservative
Allies: Indiana governor and former congressman Mike Pence (R) and Reps. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)

Hensarling, in his  fifth term representing an area outside of Dallas, was seen as a formidable opponent to McCarthy (see below). The Washington Post's Robert Costa reported that Hensarling's bid for the position had McCarthy allies "watching nervously" and that Hensarling was trying to line up votes for the position. Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, also could default to the whip's race.

But as of Thursday morning, Hensarling is out of the running for majority leader, according to three people familiar with his plans, The Washington Post's Robert Costa and Ed O'Keefe report.

Labrador (AP)
Labrador (AP)

Who: Raul Labrador (Idaho)
Date in: June 12 (possible)
His politics: Tea party conservative
Allies: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.)

When John Boehner sought reelection as Speaker at the beginning of the 113th Congress, Labrador was one of the few members of the Republican caucus not to vote for him. And he was also one of the few Republicans to earn a vote from a colleague: Michigan's Amash gave him one vote for the top job. Earlier this year, he suggested that Boehner's views on immigration made him unfit for the position, and he hinted that he might run for speaker himself.

Only in his second term representing Idaho's 1st Congressional District, the tea party-aligned Labrador told the Post's Philip Rucker that he might challenge Kevin McCarthy for the majority leader role. Which would make Republican leadership meetings between Boehner and himself somewhat uncomfortable.

McCarthy (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
McCarthy (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Who: Kevin McCarthy (Calif.)
Date in: June 11
His politics: Establishment Republican, pragmatist
Allies: Cantor, Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)

McCarthy, the current majority whip, is "widely expected" to run for the higher position, Costa and O'Keefe reported Wednesday, but he apparently isn't planning any announcement in the short term out of deference to Cantor.

McCarthy is a four-term member of Congress from California's Central Valley. In 2009, he became chief deputy minority whip behind Cantor's minority whip position. When the Republicans retook the House and Boehner became Speaker, McCarthy replaced Cantor as whip.

In a struggle that, like Cantor's ouster, may be defined by the tea party-versus-establishment narrative, it's not clear that McCarthy's status as heir apparent, much less a close ally of Cantor's, will necessarily be an advantage.

Sessions (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Sessions (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Who: Pete Sessions (Tex.)
Date in: June 11
Date out: June 12
His politics: Establishment Republican, conservative
Allies: Boehner, NRCC Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.)

Sessions is the man McCarthy defeated in 2011 to become majority whip. Since then, Sessions "has been eager to challenge McCarthy and is telling colleagues that an older, more conservative hand is needed near the top, aides said," according to The Post. But McCarthy is seen as having more support for the position.

In his ninth term, Sessions was targeted by conservatives in the Texas primary earlier this year. He easily defeated his opponents. On Wednesday afternoon, Sessions confirmed he would vie for the position.

 

The race for majority whip

(House website)
Price (House Web site)

Who: Tom Price (Ga.)
Date in: June 11
Date out: June 12
His politics: Fiscal conservative
Allies: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Hensarling

Price's possible candidacy to replace McCarthy was quickly nipped in the bud. Price is a medical doctor and a member of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)'s Tea Party Caucus.

He's in his fifth term representing an area outside of Atlanta.

 

<br />Roskam (AP Photo)

Roskam (AP Photo)

Who: Peter Roskam (Ill.)
Date in: June 11 (possible)
His politics: Establishment Republican
Allies: McCarthy and  Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and  Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)

Roskam has privately indicated to his staff that he plans to run for the whip position, assuming that McCarthy runs for majority leader. (Costa and O'Keefe also report that Roskam plans to support McCarthy's candidacy.)

In his fourth term, Roskam is chief deputy majority whip, the position that McCarthy held before he was whip.

Scalise (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Scalise (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Who: Steve Scalise (La.)
Date in: June 11
His politics: Red-state conservative
Allies: Reps. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.)

Scalise is chairman of the Republican Study Committee. He's already whipping votes for his candidacy to replace McCarthy, according to The Post, arguing that "he would serve as 'a red state voice' in leadership ranks currently lacking a hard-line conservative."

Scalise replaced Bobby Jindal in the House when Jindal was elected governor of Louisiana.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, The Post's Costa says Scalise is the front-runner.

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Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He previously wrote for The Wire, the news blog of The Atlantic magazine. He has contributed to The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Daily, and the Huffington Post. Philip is based in New York City.
Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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