House Majority Leader Eric Cantor—who was defeated in a shocking primary upset Tuesday night—will step down from his leadership position at the end of July, the Washington Post reports:
Cantor’s decision – made just hours after he lost a primary contest to tea party-backed economist Dave Brat – comes as several senior Republicans began scrambling Wednesday to build support and fill the leadership vacuum.
With jockeying already underway, Cantor, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) were expected to meet around midday. McCarthy, the next in line after Boehner and Cantor, is widely expected to run for majority leader, but he will have competition. Members of the Republican Study Committee — the caucus for the most conservative House Republicans — were also huddling to discuss the future.
Cantor's announcement will also put to rest speculation that he may attempt to run as a write-in candidate, à la Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski:*
In addition to stepping down as majority leader, Cantor has decided not to run as a write-in candidate in November, according to two Republicans close to him. The Republicans were granted anonymity to discuss sensitive internal talks.
With Cantor's ouster, the GOP House leadership has been effectively thrown into chaos. Cantor was widely seen as a probable successor to current Speaker of the House John Boehner. Now, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is likely to try to ascend to second-in-command—but he'll face stiff competition from Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the influential House Rules Committee. The mourning period for Cantor's incumbency, it seems, is now over—and the race to grab his position has begun.
*Correction, June 11, 2014: This post originally misspelled Lisa Murkowski's last name.