In theory, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) doesn’t have to give up his leadership position until the end of this Congress, when his term will end and he will no longer be in elected office. But under the circumstances, Cantor would find it difficult to lead effectively if he stayed on.
As the Washington Post reports this afternoon, it appears Cantor has come to the same conclusion.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) plans to step down from his leadership post by the end of July, setting off a weeks-long scramble for the chamber’s number two job, according to three Republicans familiar with his plans.Cantor will formally announce his plans later Wednesday in a meeting with his House Republican colleagues in the basement of the U.S. Capitol.
The end of July isn’t that far off, a point that isn’t lost on ambitious members. Indeed, House Republicans have struggled with intra-party divisions for a long while, but the jockeying for position, which has already started, is going to exacerbate those tensions.
And it’s going to get ugly.
At least for now, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appears unlikely to step down and will probably; seek another term with the gavel.
Looking down the hierarchical list, however, we see nothing but chaos.
* Majority Leader: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wants the gig, as does House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas). Note, these two have been rivals for many years and have never got along. Boehner has signaled his intention to remain neutral in the contest, though I’m not sure what his endorsement would do anyway.
* Majority Whip: Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise (R-La.) will try to replace McCarthy, and he’ll probably face Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), the chief deputy whip. Roskam is a McCarthy ally and would probably look to run on a sort of ticket.
* Wild cards: House Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) are all eyeing leadership posts, but it’s unclear which.
* Ripple effects: In nearly all of these instances, the House Republican looking for a new slot will have to give up their current slot, which means other unnamed members will also be jockeying for various committee chairs.
None of these members, by the way, are moderates. They represent different factions and constituencies within the party, but when it comes to ideological differences, we’re talking about conservative House lawmakers vs. very conservative House lawmakers, all of whom will be running around the Hill trying to reassure allies about how reliably conservative they’d be.
Hill watchers are already buckling their seatbelts.
Update: Sabrina Siddiqui talked to Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) who raised a point worth watching: he said likes McCarthy as Cantor’s successor, but added that having “red state” representatives in the leadership will be a ”determining factor” for many members. McCarthy is from California.