Days after House Speaker John Boehner stunned colleagues by announcing his resignation, his top lieutenant formally announced that he’ll seek his outgoing boss’s job.
California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who now serves as House majority leader, told colleagues on Monday that he is running for the position of House Speaker.
“We can’t ignore the differences that exist, but we can and must heal the divisions in our conference with work, time, and trust. That is why I have decided to run for Speaker of the House and graciously ask for your support,” he said in an email to House Republicans.
McCarthy, 50, has been a member of House leadership since 2009. He was elected majority leader in 2014 and is viewed as an overwhelming frontrunner for the top job in the United States House.
While McCarthy is known for cordial relationships with conservatives in the party, he could face some opposition as he reaches for the gavel. Some of the House’s hard-liners view McCarthy as an extension of the Republican establishment personified by Boehner, whom conservatives said failed to fight the Obama administration aggressively enough on issues like immigration and federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
In his message to fellow Republicans, McCarthy acknowledged the tensions between the party’s establishment and its grassroots.
“I want us to be much closer to the people we represent, and I want them to once again feel like this is their government, they are in charge, and we are here to serve them,” he wrote. “If elected Speaker, I promise you that we will have the courage to lead the fight for our conservative principles and make our case to the American people. But we will also have the wisdom to listen to our constituents and each other so that we always move forward together.”
McCarthy’s run has already set off a scramble for the job of majority leader, as well. Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Tom Price of Georgia are seeking the position, and Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers is widely considered to be planning a run as well.
But both Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas and House Ways and Means chief Paul Ryan, once considered possible contenders for majority leader, have both declined to run and instead endorsed Price.
NBC's Carrie Dann, Alex Moe and Luke Russert contributed.