By Bob Cusack
Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) shocking loss Tuesday night has upended the race to replace Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The majority leader was widely expected to succeed Boehner either in 2015 or within the next several years. But now, Boehner's replacement is anyone's guess.
Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) - The affable majority whip is next in line, though he's only serving his fourth term and has not been able to corral the votes on high-profile bills. Yet, McCarthy is popular and well-liked by his colleagues, and that goes a long way in leadership battles.
Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) - The Financial Services Committee chairman has not ruled out a bid for Speaker, and he would have a lot of built-in support from the loyal Texas delegation. Still, Hensarling has served in the leadership team before, and some GOP members have said he didn't seem to enjoy it. Regardless, the political stock of Hensarling — who has clashed with Cantor — received a huge boost with economics professor David Brat's victory over the majority leader Tuesday night.
Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) - The 2012 vice presidential candidate has said he wants to become Ways and Means Committee chairman next year, which would likely preclude him from running for the White House in 2016. Ryan has indicated he's not interested in running for Speaker, but Cantor's loss could change his thinking. GOP members, however, have long said Ryan is a policy wonk and has his eyes set on the chairmanship of Ways and Means. A Ryan speakership would hamper any future presidential bid.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) - The highest-ranking GOP woman delivered this year's Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union. She is a rising star and a potential vice presidential candidate in 2016. A bid for Speaker would be risky, however.
Tom Price (R-Ga.) - Price is in line to replace Ryan as Budget Committee chairman, though he has had his eyes on a top leadership post. The question is: Could he get the 218 votes needed to become Speaker?
Steve Scalise (R-La.) - The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) could mount a bid for Speaker, though he would have a better shot at seeking another leadership post.
Tom Cole (R-Okla.) - Cole is media-friendly and an ardent backer of the GOP leadership team. He is well regarded in the GOP conference, though he probably lacks the votes from conservatives to become Speaker of the House.
Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) - If Boehner decides to give up the gavel, he could back his Ohio colleague — either publicly or privately. Jordan and Boehner had their differences when Jordan headed the RSC, but they always remained on good terms. Jordan, a favorite of the right, would be viewed as a dark horse if he tried to succeed Boehner.
Boehner has said he will run for Speaker next year, though his recent purchase of a condo in Florida and the departure of some of his staff over the last couple of years has stoked speculation that this Congress will be his last.