Dec 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

GOP rips McCarthy "saboteurs"

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Key hard-right influencers are backing Kevin McCarthy for House speaker, despite a rebellion by some right-wing members.

Why it matters: In a leadership fight, it's rare for the party's rabble-rousers to back an incumbent.

Between the lines: McCarthy's longtime strategy of courting the right is paying off.

  • Given McCarthy's establishment bona fides, there's zero chance he'd have this right-wing defense without his years of patient overtures.
  • This doesn't guarantee he'll overcome the opposition. But it improves his chances.

These influential supporters include immigration hardliner Stephen Miller, and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

  • But we're really seeing it with a chorus of conservative media powerhouses, including radio host Mark Levin, Mike Cernovich (1 million Twitter followers) and Breitbart's Matt Boyle.

Zoom out: The legwork came to fruition as Levin drove headlines for calling the group pushing back against McCarthy the "gang of 5 saboteurs."

State of play: Five House Republicans have indicated they oppose McCarthy's bid.

  • That includes Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.).

McCarthy cannot afford more than four defections for the floor vote in January. Speakers are elected by members from both parties and the House speaker needs 218 votes to ascend.

  • McCarthy's opposition want more say earlier in the legislative process and accuse McCarthy of not doing enough to fight "radical Leftists."
  • There's not a clear alternative to McCarthy as Jordan and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the two viable alternative candidates, have both been in support of McCarthy.

Zoom in: Jordan, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, strongly defended McCarthy for speaker at a meeting last week with members across the ideological spectrum, according to two people familiar with the matter.

  • Jordan told the group he has been around many different leadership teams and McCarthy has by far been the most open to members' voices.

The bottom line: Despite the pressure on them to bend, several members doubled down.

  • Gaetz responded to Posobiec's tweet by saying, "If you name names opposing McCarthy, start with mine."
  • Good and Biggs told Axios this week that they would be voting for Biggs, not McCarthy.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to clarify that Rep. Gaetz is not a member of the Freedom Caucus.

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