House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. UPI/Mike Theiler | License Photo
WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, withdrew from consideration in the race for House majority leader, bowing out of the vote that will take place next week to replace Eric Cantor.
Hensarling, the chairman of the powerful Banking Committee, was a favorite of many of the House's more conservative members.
"Although I am humbled by the calls, emails, and conversations from my colleagues encouraging me to return to leadership for the remainder of the 113th Congress, I will not be a candidate for majority leader next week," he said. "After prayerful reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right office at the right time for me and my family."
With Hensarling out, the race for leader appears to be a two-man game between Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the majority whip, and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, the House Rules Committee chairman.
McCarthy and Sessions have been antagonists within the party since McCarthy beat out Sessions for the whip job in 2010.
Rep. Peter Roksam, R-Ill., the chief deputy whip, said Wednesday he hopes to step up and take over for McCarthy. Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who leads the conservative Republican Study Committee, has already begun gathering support for the whip job.
The jockeying for leadership comes on the heels of Cantor's unexpected defeat to tea party conservative Dave Brat, an economics professor at a small college near Richmond. Cantor has said he plans to resign from the leadership on July 31st, although the election to replace him is scheduled for next Thursday.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, refused to publicly wade into the race. At his weekly press conference at the Capitol, Boehner said he has worked "with all 434 other members of Congress before" and would do so with whomever was elected as his deputy.
Although Sessions said he remained confident he could come out ahead in next week's security ballot, other members are quickly lining up behind McCarthy. Cantor endorsed him Wednesday, and other members have followed suit.
"He's got this pretty wrapped up," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who is whipping votes for McCarthy. "I think he had this wrapped up pretty quick. At the end of the day I think McCarthy has got this one over the top."