Today, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who lost his primary race yesterday, made it clear that he would like his protégé and good friend, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), to succeed him as Majority Leader.
While insiders and pundits had McCarthy already in the running, the politically savvy California Congressman has yet to formally enter the race. Going for the brass ring is a big decision for McCarthy, given that House Rules require that McCarthy would actually have to step down as Whip in order to run for Leader.
One of the questions is whether or not McCarthy’s close relationship with Cantor would help him or hurt him in a bid for Cantor’s position. Today at a press conference, an emotionally stoic Cantor, in response to a question from a reporter asking if he had a favorite to succeed him, was emphatic in his support of McCarthy for the job.
There has been speculation about whether McCarthy, who has shown a great skill in putting together votes for leadership-supported legislation, could rally supporters to a personal bid for the number two spot in the House of Representatives. McCarthy is looked at as being a capable and shrewd political operator–but he is not by any accounts a policy-oriented member, and is most definitely looked at as part of the political establishment.
Cantor said that he would be stepping down as Leader on July 31, and elections for his post will be held on June 19. The short time-frame would clearly help McCarthy, who has an existing organization within the GOP caucus.