By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman is launching a bid for House Republican Whip in the wake of the stunning primary upset loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday.

“I’m running,” Stutzman told Howey Politics Indiana this morning. ”I just made that decision.”

Stutzman, R-Howe, said that he is supporting current Majority White Kevin McCarthy of California for majority leader. “This is Kevin McCarthy’s race to lose,” Stutzman said. “I’m supporting Kevin. Speed matters. He’s a friend of mine and I came out early in support of him.” McCarthy is likely to be opposed by Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Tom Price of Georgia, and possibly Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Peter Roskam of Illinois.

If McCarthy ascends to majority leader, that sets up a battle for whip. Stutzman said that he expects Scalise and Roskam of Illinois as likely opponents in that race.

Stutzman called his chances “a long shot” but said that a number of Republicans in the conference are looking for a “red state conservative and a fresh face.”

“I’m just getting started,” Stutzman said. “I was up really late last night making calls. There will be a lot happening in the next few days.”

Stutzman has forged his career by winning special caucuses. He was elected to the Indiana House at age 26 in 2002, then won a SD13 caucus in 2009 to replace Sen. Bud Meeks, who resigned. In 2010, he ran in a five-way race for the U.S. Senate, finishing second to U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, 39-29% in May 2010. When U.S. Rep. Mark Souder resigned as the result of an extra marital affair with a staffer a few weeks later, Stutzman won the ensuing caucus in June of that year. He is now the ranking Republican House member in Indiana.

Stutzman said that Cantor experienced a “systemic failure” in his primary race. “Eric Cantor is the hardest working member of the Republican conference. But obviously there was a phenomenon that Eric did not recognize. The only thing I can conclude is there was a disconnect between Eric Cantor and his voters.”

Asked if he was concerned about this kind of upset happening to other Republicans, Stutzman said, “It’s a reminder to all of us that you have to take care of your home base. All politics is local. You’ve got to visit your district regularly. You’ve got to take care of constituent service. Eric was very helpful to the Republican conference, but that may have been what beat him.”

Developing . . . .