Kevin McCarthy withdraws from Speaker contest, Boehner postpones election
Rep. Kevin McCarthy put party above ambition and announced to a stunned Republican conference gathered to choose the next Speaker that he would not run. Almost immediately, outgoing Speaker Boehner postponed the election and adjourned the meeting, presumably to
conspire confer with insiders in order to choose his successor. Proceeding with a vote would have elected one of the remaining two candidates, Daniel Webster and Jason Chaffetz, who were apparently were unacceptable to Boehner, so he called off the election.
Boehner has just burnished his reputation as an unprincipled establishment tool.
Fox News reports:
Fox News is told McCarthy, in revealing his choice, simply told colleagues it was not his time.
His withdrawal rattled fellow lawmakers, particularly his allies in leadership. But addressing reporters afterward, McCarthy said he thinks the party needs a "fresh face."
"If we are going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that," McCarthy said. "We've got to be 100 percent united."
He said he will stay on as majority leader.
He gave no indication of dropping out earlier in the day. "It's going to go great," McCarthy said Thursday morning.
So, was Boehner caught off guard? If so, he acted swiftly to protect the GOP establishment from the conservative base. And disgraced his name even further.
J. Robert Smith adds:
What a difference a couple of days make. McCarthy was about as sure a thing as Speaker as Nancy Pelosi is for wax museum assignment. Conservatives, led by the Freedom Caucus, coalesced to all but ensure that McCarthy would not receive a majority vote when his nomination came to the House floor for a vote. There’s some talk of McCarthy having other “baggage,” though it’s unspecified.
The problem I wrote about among the House conservatives remains: who, if anyone, steps forward to lead? Jason Chaffetz and Dan Webster both have their hats in the ring, but neither is considered particularly strong for the job (Webster’s going to be redistricted out of his seat). Yet either is possible.
Will an effort be made to coax Trey Gowdy into the speakership? Can Tom Price and Steve Scalise cut a deal, giving one the speakership and the other the majority leader’s post? Boehner and his cabal are figuring out who among the establishment Republicans can be positioned to take the Speaker’s chair. Can Boehner hijack the House Republicans and boost another RINO? The politics in caucuses can get awfully byzantine.
Some speculation is that an interim Speaker will be settled on… a retiring rep to serve as a caretaker. But what sort of folly is that? Entering an election year, the GOP needs a Speaker who can lead House Republicans into worthwhile fights with Obama and the Democrats, thereby drawing sharp contrasts for voters heading into the 2016 elections.
Conservatives are being given one of those rare opportunities to make a difference by electing one of their own as Speaker. Let’s hope they don’t blow it.
J. Robert Smith