Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert said it's too early to tell if House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning primary loss Tuesday could spark a Republican leadership change that sends U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton further up the GOP power ladder.
Cantor, of Virginia and the second-most powerful man in the House, was dethroned by little-known, Tea Party-backed Republican primary challenger David Brat, who rolled to victory on a wave of public anger over calls for looser immigration laws. The victory was by far the biggest of the 2014 campaign season for Tea Party forces.
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Roskam, the House chief deputy whip, is No. 4 on the Republican leadership team in the House. But No. 2 Cantor's loss will raise questions about Roskam's future.
Hastert, a longtime suburban Republican now of Plano, praised Roskam but said the shocking nature of Cantor's upset means it's unclear what will happen next.
Hastert predicted Republican leaders likely wouldn't just each move up a spot when the new Congress convenes in 2015.
"It's more complicated," said Hastert, who rose to the speakership in 1999 from the spot Roskam occupies. "I don't think that's going to happen."
"It's too early," he said. "There's going to be a lot of speculation."
A Roskam spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.
Roskam became chief deputy whip in 2011. 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.
Roskam told Politico.com in May he's interested in moving up someday.
"Do I have an interest in trying to grow in leadership in an appropriate time? Yes, I do," he said.
At the time, though, speculation about leadership changes in the next Congress stemmed from the idea that House Speaker John Boehner might step down. The idea that Cantor could lose a primary race was widely unexpected.
"Nobody saw this coming at all," Hastert said. "Not the polling, nothing."
November's elections could bring further surprises that could color any leadership races at the Capitol, too.
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.