Kevin McCarthy was the obvious frontrunner for the Speaker of the House position, but just a few short minutes ago, he dropped his bid without immediately citing a reason. What was once a race almost completely tied up for the California Republican has now been blown open wide.
McCarthy, it seems, was fine with the idea of running for Speaker through yesterday evening, even going so far as to look to strike a deal with the more conservative House Freedom Caucus – a compromise which might have put him over the 218 votes necessary to earn the title. Then, he held a secret meeting today with a few key lawmakers and promptly announced that he was pulling out of the race. McCarthy has so far declined to provide any further information, and speculation is rampant.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Thursday abruptly pulled out of his bid to be the next speaker of the House.
McCarthy was expected to coast to an easy win, as he was thought to have the support of nearly 200 Republicans.
But in a Republican-only meeting in which the election was set to take place, McCarthy surprised everyone, including Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, by saying he no longer believes he’s the best candidate.
“We need a new face in leadership, and I’m not that face,” he said, according to members in the room.
The most obvious reason is that McCarthy felt his quest for votes was an uphill climb. The second most obvious reason? His comments last week, used by Republicans and Democrats interchangeably and for various reasons, that may have effectively ended the Benghazi select committee and provided Clinton with a way to neutralize bad press from her upcoming testimony (if it happens at all), were damaging enough that House Republicans’ confidence was completely eroded. There’s also some speculation that a letter from Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, warning that those in the Speakers race should be prepared to have the skeletons in their closet put on display – may have spurred on McCarthy’s departure. That’s the most outlandish explanation, so naturally its the one being most universally accepted at this point. McCarthy, himself, denies.
McCarthy isn’t naming an immediate successor. He told Rich Lowry that he was backing Paul Ryan, but Paul Ryan doesn’t seem to want to compete. We’re left with Jason Chaffetz, possibly Daniel Webster, maybe Tom Price, possibly Peter Roskam, and a few bits and pieces from several others. But right now, the whole thing seems to be a giant Dumpster fire of chaos, with little way out. Since the Republican party has operated in that manner for some time, I don’t believe that will be an impediment to success, but I suppose you never know.
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