House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has cleared the field to succeed Eric Cantor as majority leader in the June 19 election.
His chief rival, House Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), dropped his bid on Thursday night, paving the way for the whip to ascend to the No. 2 spot.
Sessions fretted “unnecessary and painful division” within the House GOP if he were to run and called for Republican unity.
“After thoughtful consideration and discussion with my colleagues, I have made the decision to not continue my run for House Majority Leader,” he said in a statement. “Today, it became obvious to me that the measures necessary to run a successful campaign would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party. At this critical time, we must remain unified as a Republican Conference. As always, I stand ready and willing to work with our team to advance the conservative agenda that the American people demand and deserve.”
There’s still time for an upstart conservative challenger to make some noise. But McCarthy, who was already seen as the clear favorite, is now in a commanding position.