The Race Is On for Majority Leader

by John Fund

Events are moving with lightning speed on Capitol Hill. First, Eric Cantor announced he is giving up the majority leader’s spot next month. Rep. Paul Ryan said he wouldn’t run to replace him. And elections to fill the majority leader’s job will take place in just eight days — on Thursday, June 19th.

The snap election increases the chances that the favored candidate of some of the House old bulls — Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state — has a head start. She is already the 4th-ranking Republican in leadership, did an excellent job in articulating the party’s message after President Obama’s State of the Union speech, and would improve the party’s image in the media. Her main competition may be House majority whip Kevin McCarthy, though his near endorsement by Cantor this afternoon won’t help his candidacy. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chair of the Financial Services Committee, may carry the conservative, activist standard in the leadership race. Hensarling, a former student of Phil Gramm before he became a U.S. senator, has impressive policy credentials and would have the same kind of support and approach to governing as another Texas economics professor who became majority leader in 1995, Dick Armey.