Updated Dec 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Andy Biggs challenges McCarthy for speaker

Rep. Andy Biggs, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and red tie.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.). Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the former chair of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, on Tuesday announced he is running against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for speaker of the House.

Why it matters: Biggs' candidacy gives McCarthy detractors a candidate to rally around, further complicating his already perilous path to the speakership.

  • When the House votes for speaker on Jan. 3, McCarthy will need the support of a majority of members voting for a candidate. "Present" votes won't count against him, but votes for Biggs or another candidate will.

What they're saying: Biggs announced his candidacy in an op-ed for the conservative Daily Caller, urging colleagues to "break the establishment."

  • "We cannot let this all too rare opportunity to effectuate structural change pass us by because it is uncomfortable to challenge the Republican candidate who is a creature of the establishment status quo, or because the challenge is accompanied by some minimal risk," Biggs wrote.
  • Biggs also cited instances where McCarthy was disloyal to Trump, such as privately floating censure in the aftermath of Jan. 6 and his initial support for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who voted for Trump's impeachment.

By the numbers: Five House Republicans, all Freedom Caucus members, have come out publicly against McCarthy, with only one leaving even slight wiggle room.

  • With McCarthy headed for a narrow majority, that could be enough to block him from getting the gavel.
  • One of the votes, Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), has previously told Axios he would vote for Biggs. All have said they don't plan to vote present.
  • Axios has reached out to a spokesperson for McCarthy for comment.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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