House Republicans on Thursday elected Kevin McCarthy as their new majority leader, elevating the 49-year-old Californian to the No. 2 position in GOP leadership and triggering a subsequent contest to replace him as majority whip.
McCarthy defeated Representative Raul Labrador in the race to replace Eric Cantor, whose shocking primary loss last Tuesday set the stage for Thursday's secret-ballot special election. After the vote, Labrador asked for the results to be recorded as unanimous—a gesture appreciated by his colleagues.
Shortly after McCarthy's victory, Republicans elected Representative Steve Scalise to replace him as whip on the first ballot. Scalise was the front-runner throughout the three-man race between him, Representative Peter Roskam, and Representative Marlin Stutzman; the only question was whether Scalise could win an outright majority on the first ballot and avoid an unpredictable head-to-head contest with either Roskam or Stutzman.
Vote tallies were not released by GOP officials in charge of the election, but the end result is all that matters: McCarthy and Scalise will join Speaker John Boehner atop the Republican leadership team.
After the votes, the new GOP leadership team—McCarthy, Scalise, Speaker John Boehner, and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers—came together for a short news conference. "I make one promise," McCarthy said. "I will work every single day to make sure this conference has the courage to lead with the wisdom to listen. And we'll turn this country around."