In a blow to the House Republican Conference’s right flank, Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a top conservative said to be mulling a bid to replace Eric Cantor as House Majority Leader, now says he will not pursue the job.
"Although I am humbled by the calls, emails, and conversations from my colleagues encouraging me to return to leadership for the remainder of the 113th Congress, I will not be a candidate for Majority Leader next week,” Hensarling said in a statement “After prayerful reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right office at the right time for me and my family. I look forward to working with the new Majority Leader to fight for a freer, stronger, more prosperous America as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee and the Representative of the Fifth District of Texas."
Hensarling had been pushed by GOP colleagues to mount a challenge against Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who currently serves in the leadership’s third slot as Majority Whip and is considered the most logical heir to Cantor’s position. Cantor, who announced his resignation from the post Tuesday after losing to his GOP primary challenger, said that he plans to back McCarthy if he runs.
Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan tweeted last night: “Tonight I will pray that @RepHensarling runs for majority leader. I respect him & trust him. Our country needs him.”
House Speaker John Boehner declined to endorse McCarthy – currently his third in command - during a press conference Wednesday but said the elections were “a time for unity.”
“I do think that the members are going to make this decision,” he said. “It’s important we resolve this issue in a fair amount of time so that we can do the work that we were elected to do.”
One of Hensarling’s colleagues in the Texas delegation, Rep. Pete Sessions, has announced a bid for Cantor’s old job as well, touting his experience heading the House GOP’s campaign arm.
But with Hensarling out, conservative Republicans are likely to shift their attention to the race to replace McCarthy as whip.
The leadership elections are scheduled for June 19.