The battle to become the GOP's next House majority leader following Rep. Eric Cantor's shocking defeat by a candidate supported by the tea party has narrowed to two strong Republican representatives, said Kurt Bardella, president of public relations firm Endeavor Strategic Communications and a former congressional aide.
The seat could go to either California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican whip, or Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, the outgoing chairman of both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the House Rules Committee, Bardella told Newsmax TV's J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum."
Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, announced Thursday morning he would not seek the House leadership position.
McCarthy has the advantage because he has Cantor's support, Bardella said, adding that Sessions may suffer fallout from colleagues who may feel he undermined Hensarling, who was perceived to be the "heir apparent" for the job.
"It kind of split the Texas delegation and you had this kind of divide internally and now it's really interesting to see if there are any hard feelings from that," he said.
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McCarthy, meanwhile, had a 48-hour window to build coalitions and get member commitments, and according to Bardella, McCarthy's camp feels confident he has the position wrapped up.
"There's just a lot of loyalty built up behind Kevin," he said, cautioning that "what goes on behind closed doors and who votes for who is anybody's guess. People make all kinds of promises and say all kinds of things, but at the end of the day, it remains to be seen whether that translates to victory."
Private wrangling is commonplace in these situation, Bardella said, comparing the behind-the-scenes atmosphere to "House of Cards" meets "Games of Thrones."
"It's almost like a conclave," he said.
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