The implosion of Eric Cantor’s majority leader operation left a sudden gap atop the House GOP that a new crop of Republicans are eyeing hungrily. By scheduling a snap election, the current leadership appeared to cement current Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy of California as the front-runner to replace Cantor in leadership elections scheduled for June 19.
But jockeying is expected to continue in the days leading up to balloting, and a McCarthy ascension would trigger a reshuffling of the leadership posts below him.
A new crop of potential leaders is also looking beyond next week, to who could lead in the 114th Congress. Of the members in the mix, all boast strong conservative credentials, with several former heads of the Republican Study Committee eyeing the next rung up the ladder. Others, such as Illinois’ Peter Roskam and Tennessee’s Diane Black, will need to convince the tea party wing that their work with current leaders hasn’t overly compromised their conservative credentials.
However the upcoming election turns out, it’s clear that conservatives are itching to seize a larger share of the party’s leadership.
2013 CQ Vote Studies: Presidential support 9 percent, party unity 97 percent
The current Republican Study Committee chairman, Scalise aggravated some conservatives — including predecessor Jim Jordan of Ohio — after he upset their preferred candidate, Tom Graves of Georgia, to win the position at the start of the 113th Congress. From his perch at the RSC, he’s agitated for leadership to take a more conservative line. Lingering ill will over his Graves upset could hinder his chances in a caucus race, but the relative dearth of Southerners in current House GOP leadership could be a selling point. He plans to seek the majority whip position if current Whip Kevin McCarthy is named majority leader.
After the party lost seats in the 2012 elections, Scalise worked to reduce conflict between the RSC and the House’s Republican leadership team. He has also served on the GOP policy and steering committees and was in charge of candidate recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2012 cycle.
Committees: Budget; Education & the Workforce; Ways & Means
2013 CQ Vote Studies: Presidential support 10 percent; party unity 97 percent
A prominent figure in the House Republican Conference, Price hasn’t held a leadership position since losing to Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who had the support of Speaker John A. Boehner, for the conference’s No. 4 spot at the start of the 113th Congress. Price was named vice chairman of both the Budget Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. A former head of the RSC and the Republican Policy Committee, Price stays in the center of most heated policy debates from his seat on the Ways and Means Committee.
Price said on June 12 that he will not run for leadership this time around, and is instead focused on succeeding Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin atop the Budget Committee. But, he said, “the encouragement I’ve received from colleagues over these past couple of days has been humbling.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.