Peter Roskam and Eric Cantor

Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill (Left) and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) during press conference on a balanced budget amendment at the U.S. Capitol on July 14, 2011. (Tribune file photo)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter Roskam is likely to run for the third-ranking spot in GOP House leadership, according to Rep. Randy Hultgren, one of his Illinois colleagues.

“He’s letting people know that if there’s an opening for the whip spot, that his intention is to run for that and he’s talking to people about support,” Hultgren said today. “I’ve talked to him and told him that I’ll support him.”

Roskam, from Wheaton, is now the chief deputy whip for the House GOP, in the No. 4 spot.

Hultgren spoke today after the “emotional” remarks delivered to the GOP Conference by outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who was defeated in a primary race Tuesday.

The current whip, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, is expected to try for Cantor’s job, according to Hultgren, who said he understood that McCarthy would have to vacate the whip’s job to run for the higher-level post.

Hultgren, from west suburban Winfield, said he expected other House Republicans from Illinois also would back Roskam. He said Roskam could be unopposed for the job or face competition from Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and possibly others.

Talking about Roskam, Hultgren said: “I’ve known him and long time and respect him. He’s very smart, a very good communicator and a very good listener. I think he’s got a great shot.”

He said Cantor’s remarks were “touching” and “emotional” while showing “huge amounts of composure and class.”

Losing a primary hurts, Hultgren said, but Cantor “still plans on having an impact for what he believes in and still believes strongly in who we are as Republicans and who we are as a country.”

Roskam’s office did not respond to Tribune questions about whether he will go for the job.

Roskam, 52, was recently appointed to a new House committee that will examine the 2012 Benghazi attacks.  First elected to Congress in 2006, Roskam sits on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

kskiba@tribune.com

Twitter: @KatherineSkiba