Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, announced today that he is running for House majority whip, entering a crowded race as the House leadership realigns after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio said Friday he was stepping down.
“Our conference was at a crossroads in 2009, and this upcoming leadership election provides us with yet another crossroads,” Sessions wrote in a letter to all GOP members. “I am contacting you this morning because, if given the opportunity, I plan to run for Majority Whip so we can work together and put our conference on the right path to fight for our conservative principles on behalf of the American people.”
At least three other lawmakers are in the race for whip but Sessions is likely to have a leg up on the competition with backing from a majority of the Texas delegation. “He has strong support from the Texans,” said a Texas GOP aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
There are 25 Republicans from Texas.
Boehner set off the current scramble for House leadership by saying he would retire Oct. 30 after facing a conservative challenge to him that threatened to shut down the government. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is the prohibitive favorite to replace him and several members are vying for the leader’s job. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is running for leader, creating the opening that Sessions is now hoping to fill.
Sessions is the chairman of the House Rules Committee, known as “the speaker’s committee” because the speaker directly controls it and chooses the chairman. Sessions was rewarded with the job in 2012 after two terms chairing the National Republican Campaign Committee.
“While serving as NRCC Chairman in 2010, I boldly proclaimed that our party would retire Nancy Pelosi as speaker. Political pundits - and even members of our party - thought that was impossible, but we did it with a net-gain of 63 seats and a new class of 89 freshman members,” Sessions said in his letter.
Others in the race for majority whip: Reps. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, Dennis Ross of Florida and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma.