Eric Cantor speaks as John Boehner, House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers look on during a news conference, March 13, 2013.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty

Eric Cantor defeat pits tea party against establishment

Updated

It’s only a few hours since news broke that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will resign from leadership in the wake of his shocking primary loss. But already, there’s an emerging scramble for succession within the fractious GOP caucus. And since Speaker John Boehner has signaled that the end could be near enough for him too, whoever gets the post could became Boehner’s heir apparent.

So who’s in contention to be the next majority leader?

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy: Currently the third-ranking member of the Republican caucus, McCarthy, from central California, is an establishment conservative who’s close with Boehner. McCarthy, who has said he’d support legal status for undocumented immigrants, would likely trigger opposition from tea partiers inside and outside of Congress. McCarthy has signaled that he plans to compete for the job.

Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers: The GOP’s current number four, McMorris-Rodgers, from Washington state, would be the highest ranking Republican woman in congressional history. Like McCarthy, she’s a staunch conservative but a Boehner ally. “The Congresswoman’s first priority has always been the people of Eastern Washington,” a spokesman told the Seattle Times via email. “Right now, she is assessing how she can continue to best serve them, her colleagues in the House, and the country.”

Rep. Jeb Hensarling: The Texan Hensarling chairs the powerful Financial Services Committee, and is the former head of the Republican Study Committee, a group of small-government stalwarts within the Republican caucus. Hensarling has lately been resisting pressure from tea party lawmakers to seek a top leadership post, but Cantor’s loss may have changed things. In a statement to National Journal, the congressman said he was mulling his options, but “prayerfully”.

Rep. Pete Sessions: Another Texan, Sessions currently chairs the House Rules Committee. Sessions has been calling and emailing Republican lawmakers Wednesday to rally support for a bid for Cantor’s job, the Dallas Morning-News reports. As a former chair of the House GOP’s campaign arm, Sessions likely has leverage with numerous members.

Congress, Eric Cantor, House Of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, Pete Sessions and Tea Party Caucus

Eric Cantor defeat pits tea party against establishment

Updated