The three-way race for Republican whip in the House of Representatives is shaping up to be the real drama on Capitol Hill as Rep. Kevin McCarthy appears a shoo-in to replace Rep. Eric Cantor as majority leader, The Hill reported
McCarthy, the current whip, has a strong lead over his more conservative challenger, Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho. Labrador had three expressions of public support from colleagues against 29 for McCarthy. The McCarthy bid was made easier by the decision of Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas to sit out the race. Hensarling is said to be considering a future run for speaker, according to the Hill.
In the whip race, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, is seen as the front-runner. Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman is challenging Scalise for tea party support. The establishment candidate is Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, now the chief deputy whip, who has 22 publicly declared backers. Scalise has the open support of 17 members, while seven have come out for Stutzman, the Hill reported.
Scalise said he is picking up backers, including House Republican Conference Chairwoman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. He has personally contacted more than 200 of the 233 Republicans in the House to ask for their vote, and his camp is broadcasting confidence.
Stutzman is presenting his bid as a challenge to the existing power structure. He wrote colleagues to remind them that he had entered Congress in 2010 as part of the tea party wave. "We ran on a promise to find solutions to the problems that have plagued Washington for so many years."
Roskam is running as the accomplished insider skilled at lining up votes. He also has conservative support from Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and Utah's Rob Bishop.
A candidate needs 117 votes to reach 51 percent of the 233 Republicans in the House. In the event no candidate reaches the mark, a second round will be held among the top two vote getters, according to The Washington Post.
The race for House leadership positions was set in motion when Cantor opted to step down as majority leader after losing in the Virginia Republican primary last week to tea party challenger Dave Brat.
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