Shocking Cantor Loss Leads to Late-Night GOP Scramble

Image: Shocking Cantor Loss Leads to Late-Night GOP Scramble House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 07:30 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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House Republicans remained awake past midnight planning and arguing about how they will move ahead after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's loss  in Virginia's primary election to college professor David Brat, The Washington Post reported.

Republicans are divided on whether Cantor should stay in his key post as the second-most powerful party member in the House, the Post reported.

Cantor's allies want him to stay on and guide the party through November. Critics say if he doesn't step down, they'll move their own favorites against him and force him from his post, according to the Post.

Cantor's loss also has associates of House Speaker John Boehner concerned. The Ohio Republican, like Cantor, has been facing challenges from his own party and from tea party-backed opponents.

His associates said they are telling him to declare he'll remain as speaker for another term and that he wants Cantor to remain majority leader through the end of the year and to argue that such unity is critical for House Republicans to maintain stability, according to the Post.

Boehner praised Cantor on Tuesday, calling him "a good friend and a great leader" after his loss to Brat.

Boehner, 64, first came to the House in 1991. Cantor, 51, joined the House in 2001 and was a deputy when Boehner was minority leader.

Some of Boehner's associates said it's likely he won't say much about his own future while he waits for others in his party to decide how they want to proceed, and whether he'll be targeted as an effort to elect all new House leaders, according to the Post.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is most expected to step into Cantor's seat. McCarthy is popular among younger and more independent members of his party in the House, and co-authored the GOP's 2010 election document "A Pledge to America."

Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling is widely seen as a rival to McCarthy to take over Cantor's majority leader position. Hensarling, a tea party favorite, chairs the powerful Financial Services Committee, has taken on Boehner, Cantor, and McCarthy, and has been urged by conservative leaders like L. Brent Bozell III to possibly challenge Boehner as speaker.

Several other top Republicans are being discussed for Cantor's position as House majority leader, including Reps Jim Jordan of Ohio; Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington; and Pete Sessions of Texas, who is a former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman.

Many believe Sessions, who has come up against McCarthy before when challenging him for the whip seat in 2010, will be most likely to take him on again, and will have many of Boehner's allies behind him.

Jordan, a former Republican Study Committee chairman, is expected to run only if Hensarling decides not to. McMorris Rodgers, who is one of the most prominent women in the party, wants to be included in the race, sources told the Post.

Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill, is not expected to run against McCarthy for majority leader, and Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the budget committee, is staying away from the leadership discussions, as he is expected to move to chair the House Ways and Means Committee next year or to even focus on running for president in 2016.

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