NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Fresh from his unforeseen defeat, Eric Cantor will step down this summer as Republican House Majority Leader.
Congressman Pete Sessions of Dallas didn’t hesitate to throw his hat in the ring, saying, “I will be running for Majority Leader.”
Sessions took his cue from grassroots conservatives, when announcing his priority. “We will protect our borders and do everything that’s necessary to do that. And that’s what the American people I believe want, from Dallas, Texas, I believe they want us to solve that problem. It means it will require leadership and I will be deeply committed to that.”
But Cantor said Wednesday he backs House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, not Sessions, for the job.
Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson said another Republican from North Texas, Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Dallas, may have his sights set on Cantor’s job or even House Speaker John Boehner’s position.
In a statement, Hensarling said, “I am humbled by the many people who have approached me about serving our Republican conference in a different capacity in the future…”
Jillson said, “For weeks now, there’s been speculation within the Republican caucus among the Tea Party types and outside that Boehner would be challenged – Hensarling might be the guy.”
With Congressmen Hensarling and Sessions both looking to move up in the leadership ranks, that raises the possibility of two people representing Dallas in the top positions in the Republican House Majority. So how likely is that?” Jillson says, “You can’t have two North Texans from adjoining districts leading the Republican Party in the House. No one would go for that.”
Katrina Pierson, a North Texas Tea Party leader, says Cantor’s loss shows that Tea Parties across the country are learning from their counterparts here in Texas how to win elections. “Now that we have that model, and we can help others all across the country implement that model,” she said. “The next two election cycles are going to be very interesting.”
When asked if more Tea Party-backed candidates will win in the future, Pierson said, “Absolutely.”
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