Dave Brat is the biggest winner of the night, of course, but the biggest beneficiary of House majority leader Eric Cantor’s defeat in the Virginia Republican primary within the House is Representative Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) and the “insurgent” conservative wing of the conference in general.
Hensarling was receiving attention as a possible successor to House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) even before Cantor, the second-highest ranking Republican, lost.
“It’s not something I’ve aspired to,” Hensarling told CNN in May when asked about the speakership, before adding, “No, I haven’t been Sherman-esque. Again, I’m not sure there’s any opportunity I want to foreclose.”
An adviser to a top House Republican said Hensarling is the biggest winner in the replace-Boehner sweepstakes. “I would put him in that category, I would put [Republican Study Committee chairman] Steve Scalise in that category, I would put Tom Price in that category,” the aide said.
At minimum, Cantor’s defeat clears an obstacle to “what could have seemed like a longer shot insurgent effort,” according to the aide. “I think their path to a leadership position is more clear,” the aide said.