Speaker John Boehner is going to be watching Rep. Jeb Hensarling very closely.
After Majority Leader Eric Cantor's surprising primary loss earlier this month, I reported that Dallas Republicans Pete Sessions and Jeb Hensarling were both considering how they could take advantage of the pending power vacuum and advance in the House Republican leadership. Things moved quickly after Cantor announced he would resign as Majority Leader and Rep. Hensarling removed himself from consideration of the leadership contest after less than a day of Cantor's announcement. Rep. Sessions found himself outmaneuvered by the weekend and also removed himself from the competition.
After the internal House elections, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California was promoted to Majority Leader, replacing Cantor as the second highest ranking Republican in the US House, a position once held by Texas' Tom DeLay and Dick Armey. Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise won the crowded follow-up election to replace McCarthy, and was elected to serve as the new Majority Whip.
But now, even though the House Republican caucus has elected McCarthy as their Majority Leader, reports are emerging that Rep. Hensarling will mount a formal challenge to McCarthy or perhaps Speaker John Boehner after the November general election. Find out what Rep. Hensarling's scheme is after the jump.According to reports from the National Journal, Hensarling has been considering running for a position within the Republican leadership long before the primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The defeat of Cantor changed the timetable and the possibilities of when Hensarling could move into the leadership, but Hensarling ultimately decided not to change his plans based on the fast-changing circumstances around him.
Hensarling is considered a favorite of House conservatives, a group that has long-considered the current leadership team of Boehner, Cantor, and McCarthy to be separate from their own view of what Republican governance should stand for. In large part, their mistrust of the current leadership team exists not because of what they did, but because they were elected from states that supported President Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012, even though their individual districts supported the Republican nominees by wide margins. It remains a question on if the election of Steve Scalise to Majority Whip will temper the conservative's mistrust, as he hails from Louisiana, which has not supported a democrat for President since Bill Clinton in 1996.
Hensarling has previously served in the House Republican leadership. In the previous Congress, Hensarling was the Chairman of the House Republican Conference, the fourth highest ranking position within the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. Rather than continue serving in the leadership in this Congress, he stepped down and assumed the Chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee.
After passing on a run against McCarthy for Majority Leader earlier this month, Hensarling released a statement saying it was “not the right office at the right time for me and my family,” and followed up by saying “My statement this morning speaks for itself,” when asked what his statement meant about running for a position in leadership for the fall.
The National Journal reports on how Hensarling may proceed from now to November:
“But Hensarling's apparent interest, combined with an empty summertime schedule conducive to internal campaigning, had plenty of members buzzing about the next round of leadership elections before Thursday's contests were even complete.
Still, the results of Thursday's special election-McCarthy's ascension to majority leader and Rep. Steve Scalise's victory in the whip's race-demonstrate the importance of timing and organization. Both McCarthy and Scalise were prepared to seek a promotion, and neither wasted a moment before jumping at the opportunity in front of them.
That lesson was not lost on GOP lawmakers. Indeed, some Republicans, even those who were unhappy with Thursday's results, expressed skepticism that a shake-up could come later this year.
“This was our best shot to change leadership-not November,” said Rep. Justin Amash, who voted against Boehner in 2013 and whose closest friend in Congress, Rep. Raul Labrador, lost to McCarthy on Thursday.
For “movement” conservatives-those aligned with the tea party and grassroots advocacy groups-the search for a candidate to vault into the top tier of House Republican leadership always narrows to two lawmakers: Hensarling and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. Both are considered ideologically pure. Both are former chairmen of the Republican Study Committee. And both are respected throughout the House GOP.
But Hensarling has two distinct advantages: He is Southern, adding geographical diversity to a leadership team that lacked it until Scalise's win Thursday; and he is considered more electable than Jordan in a conference-wide vote.
Of course, there's another critical difference: Hensarling is ambitious and has already served as the No. 4 in Republican leadership, while Jordan is content as a rank-and-file member and has been emphatic that a leadership job “isn't me.””
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