Lawmakers line up to fill Cantor's shoes


House GOP lawmakers were "shell-shocked" that party leader Rep. Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election Scalise allies upset over Ryan blindside on McCarthy endorsement MORE lost his primary on Tuesday night, according to members who had spoken during a vote series on the House floor Wednesday. 

But that didn't stop them from jockeying for his leadership post after he stepped aside at a closed-door meeting in the Capitol. 

The contenders: Rep. Pete Sessions, who started openly lobbying for votes shortly after Cantor announced defeat on Tuesday night; Kevin McCarthy, Cantor's deputy; and possibly Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas lawmaker at the perch of the Financial Services Committee. 

Some lawmakers were "rubbed the wrong way," when they received a text from hopeful Cantor successor Sessions asking for support in his bid to become the next House GOP Leader. 

"I'm hearing on the Floor that the fact that people got texts 20 mins after (Eric) announced his loss, from Sessions, really rubbed people the wrong way ... Until 2 in the morning. How about waiting until the body's at the morgue?," one House member said. 

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opted to wait until Cantor formally announced he was stepping down before campaigning to be the next Majority Leader, according to a source who was in McCarthy's office late Tuesday night. 

"McCarthy said 'we're not doing anything until Eric does what Eric's going to do, we're going to give him room to make his decision," the source told The Hill. 

A McCarthy supporter seemed confident that the affable Californian would defeat Sessions but less confident should Hensarling enter the race. 

"That changes the game,"if Hensarling tosses his hat in the ring for No.2,  the lawmaker admitted. 

The next question is when will the election to replace Cantor take place. 

A separate lawmaker told The Hill that it should be done sooner to deny outside interest groups from influencing the outcome of the respective races. 

In fact, he speculated that one of the members would get up at the closed-door House GOP meeting, where Cantor is expected to step down as Majority Leader, to say "we need to move as quickly as possible to find a replacement."

He explained that "the longer you wait, the more outside groups get in and try to butress that guy or this guy. Let people who are naturally ambitious to get [Majority Leader] do it now and let's put it to rest."