As Republicans absorb losing the House of Representatives, the GOP leadership race in the chamber is ramping up to determine who will take over the position of No. 1 House Republican after outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan leaves.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the current No. 2 Republican and House majority leader, and Rep. Jim Jordan, the co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, both announced bids on Wednesday to become minority leader in the next Congress after outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan leaves.
McCarthy is viewed as the favorite to succeed Ryan, while Jordan is considered to be a longshot contender for a GOP leadership role.
House Republicans are set to hold their leadership elections on Wednesday of next week, a day after they return to Washington.
McCarthy formally announced his bid in a letter, saying that House Republicans must not let their defeat in the 2018 midterms “diminish the great gains President Trump and our majority have delivered.”
McCarthy wrote, “we need to lay the groundwork to regain the majority so that we can continue working alongside President Trump to fulfill our promise to fundamentally change Washington. I helped build a majority from a deeper hole than this and I have what it takes to do it again. That is why I have decided to run for Republican Leader and humbly ask for your support.”
Asked by CNN about his challenge to McCarthy on Wednesday, Jordan said, “I think we have to match the President’s intensity on changing this town as we move forward.”
“You stand up for the truth. You stand up and defend the White House and the President,” Jordan said when asked about how House Republicans can counter a Democratic majority pursuing oversight of the President and the administration.
He added that Republicans will have to “show the American people the difference in where we would like to take the country and earn back their trust and earn back the majority.”
According to a source familiar with his plans, Jordan is expected to make the pitch that Republicans would need a fierce attack dog as minority leader to fight against Democrat oversight efforts, and Jordan has already proven he has a loud and aggressive bark.
It’s unclear yet if House Majority Whip Steve Scalise could also mount a bid for minority leader.
Scalise has said that he would not challenge McCarthy in a race for speaker, but when asked recently whether he would challenge the current No. 2 Republican in a race for minority leader if Republicans lost the House, he declined to speculate on the hypothetical.
“I’ve never been in the speculation game,” Scalise told Roll Call, adding, “when Paul said he was going to step down — I said I’d support Kevin. And I haven’t talked about all the things that might happen and what I might run for.”
With House Republicans in the minority, there may be a match-up between Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Liz Cheney for the position of GOP conference chair. McMorris Rodgers currently holds that position, but Cheney on Wednesday formally announced her candidacy for the spot in the next Congress.
“I am asking for your support to be House Republican Conference Chair because I know we can and must prevail, and I want to lead the effort to build a new and effective House GOP communications operation,” Cheney wrote in a letter to members on Wednesday.
McMorris Rodgers has not yet announced what she plans to do.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker will run for GOP conference vice chair.
Walker was contacting his colleagues Wednesday morning and letting them know he is running, according to his spokesman, Jack Minor.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Elizabeth Landers contributed to this report.