House Republicans promoted Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy to become the House majority leader in a rare mid-session ballot necessitated by Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat in a June 10 Virginia primary.
The California Republican, 49, has built a reputation as a gregarious and politically savvy pol despite some failings in the more confrontational whip role, which is tasked with counting and securing votes in a divided GOP conference to pass legislation. The majority leader is responsibility for coordinating the legislative agenda with committee chairmen and managing the U.S. House schedule as second-in-command to the speaker.
McCarthy quickly locked up support — including Cantor’s public endorsement — and he faced only token opposition from Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, a Tea Party-aligned lawmaker. Labrador’s candidacy reflected the frustration among the party’s grass-roots toward the establishment and over the lack of conservatives from red states at the leadership table.
Cantor opted to relinquish his post in order to head off months of divisive jockeying when leadership elections will be held again in November after the mid-term elections. Cantor will officially step down at the end of July, but he will serve out his term in the House. McCarthy will be well-positioned in November’s leadership elections if Republicans maintain control of the U.S. House, as expected.
Source: USA Today | Susan Davis