As conservatives begin to wrap their heads around the shocking primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, at least one member of the coup to unseat Speaker John A. Boehner doesn't think an open spot in leadership will strengthen Boehner's hand come the 114th Congress.
Just minutes after Cantor's defeat was official on Tuesday night, Rep. Tim Huelskamp told CQ Roll Call that Cantor's ouster "bodes well for an entire new leadership team.”
The Kansas Republican, who hasn't been quiet about his qualms with leadership, said it's "too early to tell" exactly how this affects leadership races, "but, again, I think it’s a team approach, and this reflects on John Boehner, this reflects on [Majority Whip] Kevin McCarthy.” McCarthy is next in succession for the majority leader spot, but many in the Capitol see his power largely tied to Cantor's.
“By tomorrow, it’ll be McCarthy running for majority leader," Huelskamp said. "He’s Mr. Ambition. But at the end of the day, I don’t think he gets to be majority leader by Eric Cantor getting beat.”
But if McCarthy doesn't get the title, that spot would be open for another member, perhaps a more conservative lawmaker who could align himself or herself with Boehner but still satiate the right-wing thirst for more conservative leadership.
Asked if he thought conservatives would be placated by a scenario like that, Huelskamp was unequivocal.
“Absolutely not," he said. "I think most members of the House know the final power rests in the speaker’s office.”
“I think it weakens the speaker; it doesn’t help him," he added.
Earlier in the day, Huelskamp had predicted that Boehner wouldn't run to be speaker in the 114th Congress, along with Reps. Raúl R. Labrador, R-Idaho, and Matt Salmon, R-Ariz.
How this affects their predictions in unclear. But for Huelskamp, he think it strengthens the chances of Boehner retiring.
Huelskamp insisted Cantor's loss was "a reflection of the entire team.”
“Eric Cantor is gone because the tea party is not dead," Huelskamp said.
Related stories: Eric Cantor Loses Primary in Massive Upset (Video) Republican Senate Primary Challengers Jump on Eric Cantor Loss Eric Cantor's Defeat Was in the Immigration Tea Leaves On Immigration, the Pressure Mounts for Eric Cantor 10 Republicans Who Could Be Speaker Cantor’s Pediatric Research Bill Could Have Been a Bust Eric Cantor: A Brief Biography Get breaking news alerts from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.