Speaker John Boehner's resignation has set off an intense round of jockeying for all four House leadership slots, setting up what's expected to be a hypercompetitive internal party battle in the middle of a key stretch of the legislative session this fall.Where is the House Freedom Caucus? The Tea Party Caucus? The Liberty Caucus? SPLITTERS!
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to run for speaker, and no other Republican has come forward to challenge him yet. The most formidable potential rival for the top spot, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said Friday he will not run.
Though McCarthy is the heavy favorite to succeed Boehner, who announced Friday that he would step down at the end of October, it's unlikely he'll be unopposed.
Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) said Friday he plans to run for speaker, though he faces redistricting problems back home. Webster was nominated for speaker by hard-liners at the start of the current Congress and received a dozen votes.
The real competition, though, may be for the leadership jobs directly under the speaker.
Among those who are expected to run for majority leader, or are at least thinking about it, include Georgia Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the Budget Committee; Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the current majority whip; House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington; and Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, who runs the Rules Committee and is former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
"There are still a lot of names floating around. We've just been having a lot of conversations with members," Scalise said. "Everybody is just dealing with the shock of what happened this morning. We'll make an announcement at an appropriate time."
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), who lost a leadership race in 2014, is eyeing the landscape, and could make a run for one of the open posts, possibly even majority leader, according to sources. Roskam was handily defeated by Scalise last year in a contest for whip after Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) shocking primary loss. Roskam scored major points with fellow Republicans for his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and Scalise has not overwhelmed members with his performance as whip.
Scalise is a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee and has strong ties with conservatives throughout the conference. But he suffered political damage last year when it was revealed that he had spoken to a white supremacy group in 2002.
But Boehner and McCarthy stood by him, and Scalise has worked hard to rebuild his public standing. He also works hard and is a shrewd political infighter, and would be a tough opponent in any leadership race.
McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking woman in the House GOP leadership, is a good fundraiser and has been working in recent months to try to craft a "mission statement" for Republicans. The project has put her in touch with dozens of members.
But McMorris Rodgers has liabilities. She already passed on one leadership race — forgoing a run for whip last year — and may not want to risk losing her spot at the leadership table if she doesn't win this fight.
Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin is running for House majority whip, according to multiple sources. Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) will likely run for that post as well, and his current role in the leadership could give him a major advantage. A third contender is Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida, who sent a "Dear Colleague" letter Friday saying that he plans to "spend the next few days personally reaching out to members of our conference to discuss my intentions to run for Majority Whip."
Current NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon, who is close to Boehner, gets good marks from other Republicans and will remain in his current post.
The maneuvering within GOP ranks has been ongoing for weeks as rumors swirled that Boehner would step down before the end of this Congress. Scalise and McMorris Rodgers have been laying the groundwork for the majority leader contest, making calls to other members for support "if some opportunity to move up appeared," according to one Republican who spoke to both of them.
Some Republicans even complained that they were under too much pressure to back one leadership candidate or the other, noting that up until Friday, there hadn't been any leadership spots actually open.
The Texas Republican delegation, the largest bloc of votes in the GOP Conference, met Friday to see whether it will line up behind any of the leadership aspirants. Winning the backing of the Lone Star lawmakers would be a major plus for any of the hopefuls. Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who once served in leadership, is mulling his own bid for a leadership post.
Many of the expected candidates in the mix have run before. In 2012, Price lost his bid to become Republican Conference chairman to McMorris Rodgers.