Sep 20, 2023 - Politics & Policy

House GOP bridge-burners are eyeing the exits

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.). Photo: Mostafa Bassim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Some of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) biggest headaches can be explained by a familiar element of politics: Ambition.

Driving the news: Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), a particular thorn in the speaker’s side, is exploring whether to leave Congress for a cable news gig, potentially with CNN, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

The big picture: Buck isn't alone in pricking McCarthy with one hand while updating his resumé with the other.

  • Reps. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), who is running for state attorney general, and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is supposedly eyeing a run for governor, are among McCarthy's harshest critics and have openly entertained trying to oust him.
  • Gaetz also has been locked in a public war of words this week with Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), a possible gubernatorial rival in Florida, over Donalds' work with mainstream Republicans on a short-term government funding bill.
  • Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), who has opposed McCarthy in nearly every major fight this Congress, from the speaker election to government funding, is considering a run against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
  • Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), another persistent McCarthy critic, is eyeing a run for Democratic Sen. Jon Tester's seat. Rosendale would be seen as a conservative-outsider alternative to Republican Tim Sheehy, a business executive recruited by the GOP establishment.

The latest: McCarthy suffered a highly public loss Tuesday when his effort to advance a bill to fund the Pentagon failed because of five GOP defections.

  • Among the defectors: Bishop, Norman, Rosendale and Buck — who switched to voting against the measure after retiring Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) flipped to voting for it.

The intrigue: It’s not just McCarthy’s critics whose sometimes confounding strategy might be explained by their having an eye toward the exit.

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