Jan 4, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Cash can't buy McCarthy speakership

Data: Federal Election Commission; Chart: Axios Visuals

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy's political operation has steered more than $300,000 over the years to the bloc of Republicans who spurned his speaker bid Tuesday, records show.

Why it matters: The data underscore the deep ideological divisions in McCarthy's caucus: Even the usual means of political wheel-greasing couldn't beat back a first-in-a-century challenge to his leadership of the new House GOP majority.

By the numbers: McCarthy's leadership PAC, dubbed the Majority Committee, has donated to the campaigns of 17 of the 20 members who voted against him in the first three speaker ballots on Tuesday.

  • Twelve of those members got cash from McCarthy's political operation during the 2022 cycle.
  • All told, the Majority Committee has given $313,500 to those 17 members since 2008, according to Federal Election Commission records — $225,000 of which came in the last two election cycles.

The big picture: Tuesday's vote was the first time since 1923 that a House Speaker failed to win an election on the first ballot, casting McCarthy's long-sought ascendance into doubt.

  • The anti-McCarthy bloc initially split their votes among a handful of conservative GOP alternatives.
  • By the second ballot, they'd settled on a candidate: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who himself endorsed and voted for McCarthy.
  • McCarthy's Majority Committee PAC donated $10,000 to Jordan's campaign last cycle.
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