National Journal

Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions has thrown his hat into the ring as a potential contender for House majority leader, an aide confirmed Wednesday.

Sessions, a Texas Republican, is already lining up supporters for a potential bid, the aide said. The position will be vacated by Eric Cantor, who lost a primary Tuesday night in a major upset.

Sessions may be able to capitalize on his four years as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, where he raised money for Republican candidates across the country and oversaw the tea-party wave of 2010, when the party picked up 63 seats in the House.

A Sessions bid could be boosted by support from the Texas delegation, the largest grouping of Republicans in the House. But fellow Texan Jeb Hensarling has announced that he is "prayerfully considering" a bid of his own, pointing to a potential rift in the delegation should both men decide to run.

It's unclear at the moment when the race would begin. Cantor could stay on as majority leader until November, but there is some speculation that he could step down earlier. Cantor's continued presence as majority leader could also exacerbate already high tensions between House conservatives and leadership. Republican Reps. Raul Labrador of Idaho, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, and Matt Salmon of Arizona just spoke Tuesday afternoon about a major leadership overhaul during their monthly "Conversations With Conservatives" event.

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