Sessions Running for Majority Leader, Setting Up Duel with McCarthy

And he’s got the Texas delegation’s size working in his favor.

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, introduces John Boehner to the GOP supporters.  
Tim Alberta and Billy House
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Tim Alberta and Billy House
June 12, 2014, 9:18 a.m.

Rep. Pete Ses­sions will chal­lenge Ma­jor­ity Whip Kev­in Mc­Carthy in next week’s spe­cial elec­tion to re­place Eric Can­tor as ma­jor­ity lead­er.

Emer­ging from Thursday’s closed-door lunch­eon of the Texas GOP del­eg­a­tion, Rep. Joe Bar­ton, a friend of Ses­sions’, told a throng of re­port­ers: “Pete Ses­sions is run­ning for ma­jor­ity lead­er, and I think he will be the next ma­jor­ity lead­er.”

“He’s go­ing to win,” echoed Rep. John Carter, an­oth­er Tex­an.

Ses­sions’ en­trance in­to the race sets up a head-to-head clash with Mc­Carthy. Ses­sions, who serves as chair­man of the House Rules Com­mit­tee, has been known to not see eye-to-eye with the cur­rent ma­jor­ity whip.

“I am not go­ing to say who is and who isn’t con­ser­vat­ive,” Ses­sions said when asked about Mc­Carthy.

However, the Tex­an and former chair­man of the Na­tion­al Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee ar­gued that he’s the con­ser­vat­ive who can bridge the House GOP’s in­tern­al di­vide. “Tex­ans, Geor­gi­ans, Pennsylvani­ans, I can bring us to­geth­er,” he said.

Mc­Carthy, whose vote-count­ing op­er­a­tion was hum­ming as of yes­ter­day morn­ing, starts the con­test with a sig­ni­fic­ant lead on Ses­sions. While Mc­Carthy spent Wed­nes­day host­ing col­leagues in his of­fice and work­ing them on the House floor, Ses­sions fi­nal­ized his bid on Thursday af­ter­noon — after many law­makers had already de­par­ted the Cap­it­ol fol­low­ing the fi­nal votes of the week.

Ses­sions does have one factor work­ing in his fa­vor: the size of the Texas del­eg­a­tion. Twenty-four House Re­pub­lic­ans hail from the Lone Star state, and Re­pub­lic­an sources ex­pect the vast ma­jor­ity of them to back Ses­sions. In fact, Rep. Mi­chael Bur­gess said all of the Tex­ans in at­tend­ance were ral­ly­ing be­hind ses­sions.

Carter con­ceded that Mc­Carthy might have a head start. “Roy Blunt told me he had it sewn up, too. But John Boehner is speak­er,” Carter said, re­fer­ring to a by­gone GOP lead­er­ship race.

One in­flu­en­tial Tex­an who at­ten­ded the meet­ing — but can’t vote in next week’s elec­tion — was Sen. Ted Cruz. The tea party fa­vor­ite and po­ten­tial 2016 pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate told re­port­ers he is stay­ing out of the race.

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