U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, (R-TX)
U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, backs down from Majority Leader race, making room for his Texan colleague Rep. Pete Sessions. REUTERS

One Texan is out and another in Thursday in the jostling to replace Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who lost to Tea Party insurgent David Brat in Tuesday's primary, as House majority leader.

House Republicans have spent the last 36 hours scrambling after Cantor’s totally unexpected defeat, but Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas rose above the fray as clear frontrunners. (Cantor announced his resignation as leader Wednesday afternoon and endorsed McCarthy.) But now, according to National Journal, Hensarling is out and another Texan, Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, is in.

"After prayerful reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right office at the right time for me and my family," Hensarling said in a statement Thursday morning, according to Reuters.

“Hensarling's decision is a blow to House conservatives, as he was the last of their preferred candidates to be seriously considering a run against McCarthy,” reported the National Journal, which broke the story.

National Journal also reported sources saying that Sessions was “willing to defer to Hensarling” when considering running for majority leader.

Representing Texas’ 32nd district, Sessions rivals McCarthy’s brand of conservatism by “aggressively pitching himself as the harder-edged conservative alternative,” according to the Washington Post.

“I was an original member of the Tea Party caucus and I understand those issues,” the Washington Post quotes Sessions as saying. “We need to look back to the Constitution and work within that.”

If McCarthy wins the majority leader position, there will be an immediate rush to fill his vacancy as majority whip. National Journal speculates, “That race will feature Reps. Steve Scalise [of Louisiana] and Peter Roskam [of Illinois] going head to head, and senior Republicans say Scalise is the odds-on favorite to claim the whip's office.”