Are Conservatives Turning Against Kevin McCarthy?

Are Conservatives Turning Against Kevin McCarthy?

UPDATE: The House Freedom Caucus has reportedly endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Florida), which will throw a wrench in Kevin McCarthy’s (R-California) bid for Speaker of the House.

After McCarthy’s recent comments that the Benghazi hearings were politically motivated, it seems conservatives aren’t so quick to support him in his efforts to replace John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker.

Just one day before House Republicans will decide in a closed-door meeting whether they will back McCarthy’s efforts to become Speaker, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said today that he wants to see a more conservative Speaker than McCarthy.

Paul isn’t the only one to express a desire for a Speaker who isn’t McCarthy. Today, during a monthly gathering hosted by the Heritage Foundation, Conversations with Conservatives, several Republican representatives outlined what they are looking for in a candidate for Speaker and expressed skepticism about McCarthy’s ability to fit the bill.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) said voting for McCarthy is absolutely not an option.

“You can’t tell your constituents that you voted for Boehner’s right-hand man,” he said.

“One gaffe doesn’t make me not want to vote for someone,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said regarding McCarthy’s comments on the Benghazi hearings. But a pattern of verbal fumbles would cause him to question someone’s readiness for that high-profile of a position, and McCarthy has a reputation of making frequent gaffes, Labrador said

While none of the members of the Freedom Caucus revealed how he would vote in tomorrow’s election for Speaker, they did say what they were looking for in Boehner’s replacement. They repeatedly emphasized that they were looking for a Speaker who would emphasize the process over his or her own political goals.


After tomorrow’s vote, a full House vote is scheduled to take place Oct. 29, one day before Boehner is set to step down. Since Boehner announced his resignation last month, two other congressmen have announced their candidacy for the role, Daniel Webster (R-Florida) and Jason Chaffetz, (R-Utah).

During today’s discussion, the conservative lawmakers made it clear that a lot could happen between tomorrow’s vote and the Oct. 29 vote, and that the candidate for Speaker would need to successfully implement changes before they would support him.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who is also the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said the caucus has every intention to vote together tomorrow as a bloc. This seems to contradict statements other members of the caucus have made about how the group intends to vote. CNN reported that Rep. John Fleming said the Freedom Caucus would not vote as a bloc, but that instead each member will vote according to his or her conscience.

Since there are about 40 members in the caucus, them voting independently could disrupt McCarthy’s bid for Speaker. He can only afford to lose 29 votes, because he needs 218 votes in the full House in order to win.

Boehner is scheduled to appear on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on Thursday night, just hours after the closed door meeting.

Bre Payton was a staff writer at The Federalist.
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