Kevin McCarthy may not be the next House Speaker
Prior to the 2022 Midterm Election, virtually every politician, pollster, and pundit in America said two things with certainty – Republicans would take control of the House and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will be the next Speaker.
While I did not entirely disagree with those prospects, I had written several commentaries explaining my opinion as to why I did not believe he was the best choice. I based it on a number of fumbles – small and large.
I believe his flipping and flopping have hurt his credibility – the one asset no political leader can afford to lose. I thought he mishandled the response to the Capitol Hill riot … the Liz Cheney defection … and the formation of the Speaker Pelosi kangaroo Select Committee. He is not one of the most powerful salesmen on the political soapbox.
McCarthy was able to get himself to the top post in the Republican House caucus. That is a noteworthy accomplishment. But that is playing the insider game better than others. Being Speaker, you must have outside game talents — the power of public persuasion over internal political gut combat. McCarthy just does not have it.
My personal favorite for Speaker is Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise – but there are others who could fill the position.
Well, the 2022 Midterm Election did not go as McCarthy would have liked. If Republicans had picked up 30 or 40 seats – as had been expected early on – McCarthy would probably be sailing into the Speaker’s office without a doubt.
McCarty’s problem is that there are several of his members who are not keen on him as Speaker. McCarthy would have easily staved off a tempest-in-a-teapot rebellion from those associated with what is known as the Freedom Caucus. But with the margin so close, they can exert significant influence by withholding their vote – preventing McCarthy from getting the 218 Republican votes he needs to become Speaker.
The word out of Washington as of this writing is that McCarthy does not have the votes. Some think he will eventually get the votes, but only after making serious concessions to the Freedom Caucus. That usually means committee chairmanships, support for favored legislation, and even help raising campaign money.
But for the first time, there is serious doubt being expressed that McCarthy will be able to get those 218 votes. You have to keep in mind that a lot of votes that McCarthy would have gotten when he was a potential slam dunk winner may slip away.
Ironically, Democrats could come to McCarthy’s rescue – believing that he would be the weakest and least effective Speaker. Unlike the Minority Leader position – which takes a majority vote of the PARTY, the Speaker is elected by a vote of the entire house.
Traditionally, the minority party does not meddle in the election of a speaker, but today’s Democrats have been cynically willing to break tradition for political gain. We saw how Pelosi used (abused) her power to kick Republicans off her one-sided Select Committee – and how Democrats spent $100 million dollars on Republican primary candidates they considered to be the weakest opponents.
Congressman Andy Biggs does not equivocate. He says that McCarthy “does not have the votes” – and that the wannabe Speaker is in denial. He said the Minority Leader is “getting ahead of himself” when he talks about what he will do when he is Speaker.
It is increasingly possible that the selection of the Speaker will require many votes over several weeks. There has not been such a contentious Speaker battle in more than a century. If McCarthy does not secure the Speakership in the first couple of votes, it is likely he never will.
In my opinion, that would be a good thing.
So, there ‘tis.