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Updated: 12:53 p.m.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) endorsed Rep. Jeb Hensarling to succeed Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) as the Republican Conference chairman on Wednesday, moments after making his own bid for the Majority Leader slot official.
Pence announced to members of the Conference on Wednesday that he felt he had fulfilled his commitment to the Conference and that it is time to move on. He is widely rumored to be considering a run for higher office.
Cantor said the Texan would be the best choice to replace Pence.
“Over the last few years, there are few who have done as much for the Republican team as Jeb,” Cantor said in a statement. “His principled approach to limited government is unquestioned; he has shown a tireless commitment to building a new Republican majority; and he is an extremely effective communicator on the issues that are most important to Americans — jobs, the economy, and unsustainable federal spending.”
Hensarling announced his interest in the post shortly after Pence stepped aside. Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) earlier this week was said to be mulling a run at the Conference position, as is Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), though neither has yet declared her candidacy.
Conservative firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann was not far behind Hensarling announcing her interest in the position. Bachmann spokesman Sergio Gor confirmed the Minnesota Republican will be running for Conference chairwoman.
“Constitutional conservatives need to have a loud and clear voice within the Conference,” Gor said. “Congresswoman Bachmann will reflect that when she is elected Conference chair.”
Bachmann has already begun reaching out to Members to garner their support, according to Gor.
Cantor also said he is seeking the No. 2 slot in Republican leadership.
“I have announced my intention to stand for election as Majority Leader because I am results oriented and I want to help lead that effort and bring about these changes,” Cantor said in a “Dear Colleague” letter. “I write not only to ask for your support, but also to outline some thoughts as to how we can seize the opportunity and make these changes.”
He is all but assured to win the position as no one in the Conference has indicated — officially or otherwise — that they will challenge the Virginia Republican.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) publicly declared his bid for Republican Policy Committee chairman. Current Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) said earlier this year that he would not seek the post.
Anna Palmer contributed to this report.