Unless a surprise challenger emerges at the last minute, the race to replace Eric Cantor as the House's second-ranking Republican is already over. House Rules Committee chief Pete Sessions says he has dropped his bid to become majority leader "after thoughtful consideration and discussion" with colleagues, leaving Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy as the only lawmaker known to be seeking the position, reports Reuters. Cantor—the first majority leader ever to lose a primary—is stepping down at the end of July following his shock defeat at the hands of little-known Tea Party challenger David Brat.
"It became obvious to me that the measures necessary to run a successful campaign would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party," Sessions said. The leadership election will be held by secret ballot next week but the more competitive race is now the one to succeed McCarthy as whip, the Hill finds. McCarthy's chief deputy, Rep. Peter Roskam, is in the running, along with Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, a hardline conservative who was punished last year for defying House leaders, the Indianapolis Star notes.