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updated: 6/11/2014 7:01 PM

Roskam would run to move up in wake of Cantor's loss

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  • House Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Wheaton, front, will try to move up on the GOP leadership team after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, facing the camera, lost his primary race Tuesday.

      House Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Wheaton, front, will try to move up on the GOP leadership team after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, facing the camera, lost his primary race Tuesday.
    Associated Press File Photo


Political Editor

Congressman Peter Roskam of Wheaton plans to try to move up a spot on the House Republican leadership team in the wake of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning primary loss Tuesday, sources close to him say.

Cantor said he'll step down from his leadership role at the end of July and would back Whip Kevin McCarthy in a bid to replace him.

Roskam, Republicans' chief deputy whip and No. 4 on the GOP power ladder, would run for McCarthy's No. 3 spot, the sources said.

A Roskam spokeswoman declined to comment.

Leadership elections are set for June 19, and the possible Republican shake-up comes just before the midterm elections this fall, when control of Congress is at stake.

Roskam isn't likely to have a free walk into the job, though. His name is likely to join a flurry of other Republicans who want a post in leadership.

"It's more complicated," former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert told the Daily Herald Tuesday evening.

"It's too early," Hastert said. "There's going to be a lot of speculation."

Rep. Peter Scalise of Louisiana will likely also seek the job.

And McCarthy could face Rep. Peter Sessions, who visited Illinois last year to back candidate for Congress Manju Goel of Aurora, who eventually lost her primary race to Larry Kaifesh of Carpentersville.

State Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Winfield Republican, said Cantor was "amazingly gracious" in a "tough meeting" of the House GOP Wednesday afternoon.

"Every election, you don't know what could happen," Hultgren said.

He said he would support a Roskam bid to move up.

"I think he would be very good at that," Hultgren said.

Roskam became chief deputy whip in 2010. He was first elected to Congress in 2006 after a career in the Illinois Senate and a brutal first campaign against Democrat Tammy Duckworth.

His profile was raised last month when he was appointed to the panel investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Cantor rose to the majority leader post after holding Roskam's job. In 2012, Cantor praised Roskam at a stop in the suburbs.

"Peter Roskam is a rock star," Cantor said then. "People like him. He's smart. He's savvy. He understands the policy end and how it relates to the political end. And he's a guy who's very trustworthy. People in Illinois represented by Peter have a good thing going."

November's elections could bring further surprises that could color any leadership races at the Capitol, too.

"What divides Republicans pales in comparison to what divides us as conservatives from the left and their Democratic" allies, Cantor said.

Meanwhile in Chicago Wednesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton said Cantor "was defeated by a candidate who basically ran against immigrants."

Some observers have seen the victory of Republican David Brat over Cantor in Tuesday's primary as a sign immigration law changes won't be coming this year.

"The answer is not to throw out of work and deport the 11 million immigrants who are contributing already to our economy," Clinton said. "The answer is to grow our economy and create more jobs."

Roskam represents the suburban 6th Congressional District, which loops around to include southern parts of Lake and McHenry counties, eastern Kane County, northwest Cook County and central DuPage County.

He recently has loudly criticized President Barack Obama's health care reform law and Tuesday announced provisions in a proposed "taxpayer bill of rights" had been adopted by the Internal Revenue Service.

Last year, Roskam was cleared of wrongdoing in an ethics probe of a 2011 privately funded trip he took to Taiwan.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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