House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy faces a perilous road to becoming the chamber’s next speaker, insiders say.
McCarthy, 57, the favorite to chair his party’s caucus with an estimated four-seat majority, has almost no margin for error on defections from GOP extremists. As usual, all House Democrats are also expected to vote against him in the Jan. 3 election.
“The coalition against Kevin has already reached critical mass,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), one of the president-in-waiting’s most implacable enemies.
Hard no-to McCarthys currently include Gaetz, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona). Two other members, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Montana) and Rep. Bob Good (R-Virginia) both issued harsh statements denouncing McCarthy.
“We need a leader who can stand up to a Democrat-controlled Senate and President Biden, and sadly, that’s not Kevin McCarthy,” Rosendale said. earlier this month.
McCarthy’s critics, many of whom are part of the chamber’s famously trigger-happy House Freedom Caucus, take issue with what they say is the GOP leader’s insular top-down management style. They also suspect McCarthy will be too compromising with Democrats and blame him for the party poor mid-term performance.
Many GOP hardliners have called for changes to House rules that would give them more leverage over McCarthy in the next Congress — including re-enacting the “leave the chair motion” that would allow any member to the House to be able to request the withdrawal of a seated Speaker.
“McCarthy is in trouble. He’s not really coming to the negotiating table with the Freedom Caucus so far,” a senior GOP official said, adding that McCarthy’s team was “shocked” and “shaken” after the midterm performance. party.
Whispers have been circulating about Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), the House GOP Whip, potentially filling the void should McCarthy implode. Also thrown were Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
The McCarthy team dismissed the chatter, saying the GOP leader was in constant contact with his membership and was confident the affable Californian would cross the finish line.
McCarthy’s allies on and off the Hill cited his recent decisive win among the MPs who nominated him for speaker last week as a vote of 188 to 31. Others noted that whatever displeasure with McCarthy, there was no obvious alternative within the GOP conference.
McCarthy, an eight-term congressman representing central California, has led the GOP conference as minority leader since 2019 and has spent more than a decade in various Republican leadership positions. His election was widely seen as a lock ahead of the party’s midterm performance.
Representatives for McCarthy did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“I would be shocked if Kevin McCarthy wasn’t the president,” said Kevin R. Kosar, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “He won the vote within the conference quite warmly and frankly, there’s no plan B.”
Among the far right in the chamber, which views him with the greatest suspicion, McCarthy has also found a powerful ally in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), an incendiary conservative who was expelled from his committee postings by Democrats last year on past statements suggesting support for the execution of prominent Democrats.
“It’s our job to unify and do a good job for the American people and show the American people that we are the party they can trust to lead the country,” Greene told the Post. “I think it would be greatly irresponsible for us to start January 3 by blowing up a speaker’s run when it’s so unnecessary.”