This is the analysis of a veteran Hill observer not affiliated with either of the candidates: Blunt not wrapping it up is a definite sign of weakness. There is a chance that Shadegg could get in and his candidacy would have to be taken seriously–he’s capable of being majority leader. But the window for him getting in is closing rapidly. Shadegg’s entry could mean an even broader shake-up in the leadership.
At the moment Blunt is–true to form, his critics would say–hedging his bets. If he loses the majority leader race, he still wants to hold his current job of majority whip. There is a lot of grumbling about that in the conference, and it’s hurting Blunt somewhat.
On the other hand, it also benefits him. There is already a race, on the assumption that Blunt becomes majority leader, for whip. Blunt ally Eric Cantor is in a very strong position in that race. In fact, he’s in a stronger position than anyone in either of the races. And he has a very strong incentive to help Blunt win the majority leadership, to guarantee that he has an opening to fill. He has every reason to make himself a big Blunt asset.
If Shadegg were to get in the race, there would be pressure on him–given how unpopular Blunt’s straddle is–to say he was going to step aside as head of the policy committee. If he did, yet another leadership slot would be open, and the deck would be re-shuffled even more. It could get interesting.