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WASHINGTON — As soon as the news spread around dinner time Tuesday that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had improbably lost his primary election to a barely known tea-party-backed challenger, Spokane Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ name cropped up among top potential picks to fill the power vacuum.

McMorris Rodgers was a logical contender, given her No. 4 House Republican leadership job as its conference chairwoman and her close alliance with Speaker John Boehner.

But by Wednesday afternoon, McMorris Rodgers withdrew her name without having even joined the leadership scramble.

Though McMorris Rodgers, 45, is deeply conservative, some of her colleagues who are farther to the right view her as part of Boehner’s establishment leadership.

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After spending the day huddling with Boehner, Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, aides and others, McMorris Rodgers issued a statement saying she would stay put.

“After much encouragement from my colleagues, conversations with my family, and many prayers, I have decided to remain Conference Chair at this time. I look forward to continue leading my colleagues and building on our successes to introduce a culture of innovation to Capitol Hill, improve the image of House Republicans, and unite our entire Conference behind conservative solutions that serve people in every corner of America.”

Kyung Song: 202-383-6108 or Twitter: @KyungMSong

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