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Hensarling Won’t Run for Leadership, Leaving Sessions to Take on McCarthy

Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas will not run to be majority leader, disappointing many House members who saw him as the conservative and Southern alternative to the current slate of elected leaders. His fellow Texan, Pete Sessions, is still in the race against Kevin McCarthy of California.  

“Although I am humbled by the calls, emails, and conversations from my colleagues encouraging me to return to leadership for the remainder of the 113th Congress, I will not be a candidate for Majority Leader next week,” Hensarling said in a statement.  “After prayerful reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right office at the right time for me and my family. I look forward to working with the new Majority Leader to fight for a freer, stronger, more prosperous America as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee and the Representative of the Fifth District of Texas.”  

Hensarling’s decision to bow out of the race strengthens McCarthy’s hand. The majority whip has already established a strong whip operation touting his candidacy, and secured the backing of Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as Hensarling dropped out . The other man in the race is Sessions, the Rules Committee chairman. Although he can likely attract votes from his sizable home-state delegation, it will be difficult for him to overcome McCarthy’s supporters, who are already swarming Capitol Hill on his behalf. McCarthy met with a delegation of Southern members Thursday morning and also huddled with the Pennsylvania delegation to tout his candidacy, according to a source familiar with his operation. His message: He knows the members from his time as whip and is the best person to continue bringing their preferred policies to the floor.  

Sessions also spoke to members of the an unofficial, “heart of the South caucus,” as Alabama Republican Mo Brooks recently termed it.  

Sessions is positioning himself as the conservative alternative.  

McCarthy will head back to California over the weekend, and his intention is to personally call all 233 members of the Republican conference to ask for their support.

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