WASHINGTON -- Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) has removed himself from consideration to replace House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, CQ Roll Call reported Thursday.
Cantor on Wednesday announced his intent to step down from his leadership role in the House on July 31, following a stunning defeat in his Virginia Republican primary. By Thursday morning, the race to replace Cantor appeared to be between House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sessions. Sessions' announcement on Thursday will likely clear the way for McCarthy's election to the second-most powerful House post.
“After thoughtful consideration and discussion with my colleagues, I have made the decision to not continue my run for House Majority Leader," Sessions said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. "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."
Prior to Sessions' announcement, McCarthy said he was confident in his ability to win the spot, telling colleagues he was nearing a majority, The Huffington Post reported Wednesday night. McCarthy had secured the support of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as well as Cantor.
"If my dear friend and colleague Kevin McCarthy does decide to run, I think he'd make an outstanding majority leader," Cantor told reporters on Wednesday. "I will be backing him with my full support."
The House leadership election will be held on June 19.