Washington (CNN) – Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, is expected to throw his hat in the ring to become the new House majority whip, several GOP sources close to McCarthy tell CNN.
McCarthy, currently the House GOP chief deputy whip, played a big role in Republican efforts to win the House majority. He was responsible for helping recruit GOP candidates to challenge Democratic incumbents, and also took the lead in producing the Republicans so-called "Pledge to America."
His likely candidacy for the number three spot is part of a natural shift in leadership once Republicans take control of the House.
Rep. John Boehner will almost surely become House speaker, and the current House GOP Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, plans to run for House majority leader.
The most competitive race in the House GOP leadership may be for the conference chairmanship. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, currently holds that position but made what had long been rumored official: he will leave the GOP leadership to explore a possible bid for the White House.
Following news that Pence plans to step down, Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling said Wednesday that he will seek the chairmanship, announcing, "While I do not claim to be able to fill Mike Pence's shoes, I have the commitment and passion to build upon his work."
"My vision for Conference is a simple one: unity, empowerment and service. Over the next two weeks, I will share that vision with my colleagues and over 60 new Republican members-elect and humbly seek their support," Hensarling said.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor endorsed Hensarling shortly after he announced his intention to seek the chairmanship on Wednesday; Pence offered his endorsement as well.
“Our majority must produce results so that we can get America back to opportunity, responsibility, and success, which is why I am proudly supporting my friend, Jeb Hensarling, to become the next Chairman of the House Republican Conference,” Cantor said.
But Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann has announced her intention to run for the chairmanship as well. Bachmann founded the House Tea Party Caucus earlier this year, and her campaign for the leadership post sets up the first battle within the House Republican conference between the Tea Party and the GOP establishment.
When it comes to the number three spot, House GOP whip, McCarthy may face a challenge from Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who is currently the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and performed quite well in his role electing House Republicans.
Sessions' spokeswoman Emily Davis told CNN, "in the coming days, he plans to discuss with his colleagues how he can best serve his party and country."
Leadership elections for both Republicans and Democrats will take place in two weeks when Congress returns for a lame duck session.
In effort to have diversity at the leadership table, Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, the vice chair of the Republican conference, will likely retain a similar post as the highest-ranking woman in the leadership.
Because the freshman class will be large and includes a lot of conservative and Tea Party candidates, House GOP leaders are discussing including a seat at the leadership table for a representative from that group. But, it is unclear what position would be or who would get it, although one thought if it could go to the president of the freshman class.
(Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET with additional information)