McCarthy the next Majority Leader?

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

The shifting political landscape that resulted from Virginia Republican Eric Cantor’s shocking loss in the primary election has left Kern County’s own Kevin McCarthy — currently serving as the Republican Whip — as the favorite to replace Cantor as majority leader in the House of Repre-sentatives.

Cantor lost to Dave Brat, a political neophyte who had garnered the backing of Tea Party voters.

For his position in leadership, Cantor endorsed McCarthy to be his successor.

“If my dear friend and colleague Kevin McCarthy does decide to run, I think he’d make an outstanding majority leader,” Cantor told reporters. “I will be backing him with my full support.”

Shortly after Cantor’s loss, Texas Republican Pete Sessions — who also campaigned for the position of whip against McCarthy — made a public bid to be Cantor’s successor. Sessions is among the representatives pushing for a “more conservative” perspective.

Sessions dropped out just two days later, leaving McCarthy as the lone declared candidate.

“After thoughtful consideration and discussion with my colleagues, I have made the decision to not continue my run for House Majority Leader,” Sessions said in a statement Thursday evening.

“It became obvious to me that the measures necessary to run a successful campaign would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party. At this critical time, we must remain unified as a Republican conference.”

In the absence of opposition, the June 19 vote for Cantor’s replacement is considered largely a formality.

Although the House Republi-cans handily regained the majority in 2010, the party has suffered its share of challenges — including a Tea Party faction that has been accused of being non conciliatory, and a leadership that has been criticized for its lack of transparency among the rank-and-file membership.

Since the party’s loss of confidence in Speaker John Boehner following the failed compromise that triggered sequestration, conservative commentators have identified McCarthy’s ability to build the bridges necessary to reach consensus as potentially the element that would lead to a successful reuniting of the party.

Cantor’s loss holds personal resonance for McCarthy, who brought his colleague to Kern County back in 2007. The pair has been connected since being featured along with Rep. Paul Ryan in the 2006 book “Young Guns,” which identified the trio as the rising stars in the Republican Party.

Story First Published: 2014-06-18