OK

Popcorn in bucket
With the Washington Post reporting that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will step down by July 31, House Republicans are going to spend at least the early part of their summer going through the last thing they expected or wanted ahead of the 2014 elections: A scramble for power within the conference as Cantor's resignation touches off a chain of GOP leadership contests.

Even though Cantor has yet to make an official announcement about his future, Robert Costa of the Washington Post, says House Republicans will hold a closed-door meeting today at 4 PM, a meeting that is sure to revolve around the conference's post-Cantor future. Costa adds that Cantor has given no indication that he plans to resign from Congress, but whether he vacates his seat will ultimately be a sideshow to the main event: The rush to fill the leadership void that will be left when he steps down.

So who will take Cantor's place? The top three names being mentioned are Reps. Kevin McCarthy, who is currently the third-ranking Republican, Pete Sessions, who is currently chairman of the House Rules Committee, and Jeb Hensarling, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Hensarling appears to the favorite of the party's most hardline right wingers, getting boosts from members of the conservative Republican Study Committee including its chairman, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.

Assuming McCarthy runs, that will set up a contest his current position, House Majority Whip, but the real excitement would come if Republicans decided Cantor's defeat should spell the end of House Speaker John Boehner's tenure. Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp is already saying that he plans a revolt against Boehner this fall if Boehner doesn't step down, but Huelskamp has long said he's gunning for Boehner and has yet to deliver.

10:34 AM PT: Fox confirms the report that Cantor will step down, and Robert Costa tweets that Boehner will stay neutral in the race to replace Cantor:

SCOOP: Boehner will NOT endorse in leadership races, potentially a blow to KM, wants to let House work its will...
@costareports
Seems like Boehner is more afraid of what his party's hardliners might do to him rather than what they might do to his party.

11:17 AM PT: Looks like House GOP wants a quick vote:

Sr House Aide says leadership election "will be pretty soon." Maybe as early as next week. #Cantor
@ChadPergram
They don't want this hanging over their heads for very long. But what will the price for swift action be?

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