WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas said on Thursday he will not run for majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives to replace Eric Cantor, who is stepping down.
Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in statement: "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." Cantor said on Wednesday he would step down from his post as the No. 2 House Republican on July 31 following his surprising primary defeat on Tuesday to David Brat, an economics professor with strong support from the Tea Party movement.
His loss stunned both Republicans and Democrats, and has triggered a shake up of his political party, opened the door to leadership changes for conservatives in the House and cracked open the divide between establishment Republicans and its further-right Tea Party wing.
Cantor on Wednesday said he backed Representative Kevin McCarthy of California for majority leader. Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, who chairs the House Rules Committee, has also said he would run in the party's election for the post, which is set for June 19. Other Republicans could still enter the race.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Eric Beech)