Yet the timing of the day’s events made it unclear whether the winners — or perhaps Boehner, himself — might face fresh challenges when the rank and file gathers in the fall after national elections.
At a news conference after the closed-door elections, Scalise and several Republicans stressed the party is united as it heads into the last several months of the year. They were at pains to project that image, as well, refusing even to provide the vote totals that might betray any internal division.
McCarthy moved quickly to line up the votes for majority leader in the wake of Cantor’s defeat at the polls in Virginia, deploying an organization developed since he became whip more than three years ago when Republicans took control of the House.
One potential rival, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, decided against joining the race, while another, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, deferred to a second Texan, Rep. Pete Sessions. Sessions quickly dropped out, though, saying it was obvious that a successful campaign would have created painful divisions within the party.
Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho jumped in, but by then, the California front-runner had amassed support from across the rank and file. He was aided not only by personal ties, but by the fundraising prowess he has displayed since joining the leadership.
His Majority Committee PAC gave nearly $1.2 million to Republican House candidates and organizations during the two-year election cycle of 2011-2012, and an additional $480,000 to candidates so far in advance of this fall’s balloting.
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