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Speaker race not settled

The race for Speaker of the House is not settled, because Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) does not have the votes to become Speaker.

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Yesterday morning came a fresh indication that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) cannot assure himself of becoming Speaker of the House. A second-term Representative has now emerged to coordinate opposition to his bid for the Speakership. And once again, he has no one to blame but himself for the predicament in which he finds himself.

Latest on opposition to McCarthy as Speaker

Reportage on the unsettled nature of the Speaker race comes exclusively from The Gateway Pundit and reporter Joe Hoft. On Friday Hoft summarized an appearance by Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.-5th) on Steve Bannon’s program, War Room.

Rep. Good gave his history. In 2020, he first won election to Congress. And at that time, many residents of what was then the Fifth District begged him not to support Kevin McCarthy as any kind of Leader. Of course, Republicans failed to capture the House in that year, though they brought the Democrats down to a single-digit margin. Good reported that McCarthy had no one to challenge him, and the House Republican Conference acclaimed him as Leader. This result followed the Seniority Rule: the most senior person leads.

But Rep. Good pledged that he would judge McCarthy by his performance as Leader over the next two years. Now it’s 2022, and Rep. Good is looking. And he said:

Kevin McCarthy has done nothing in two years to earn my vote.

He named a number of specific failings, border security chief among them.

At Midterms he had to run in a new Fifth District. State Senator Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield Co.) was looking for a seat in Congress to run for. When the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Special Masters handed down a new map, it put Chase in the Fifth District. She declined to run against Good. (The SCV then redrew the maps a second time and put her in the First District.)

Midterms are over

Good easily won election in his new Fifth District, with Chase backing him all the way. And he has given her no cause to regret raising funds for him and encouraging people to vote for him. (Chase has told CNAV that she intends to run for re-election to the Virginia Senate in the 2023 off-year elections. In two Senate terms, Chase has built up considerable “America First” “street credit,” so her endorsement carries much weight.) So why won’t he run for Speaker? For one reason only: he personally doesn’t think he has the experience.

But he asserts that every House Republican has heard from constituents not to support Kevin McCarthy as Speaker. And yesterday Joe Hoft quoted “insiders” as saying flatly: Kevin McCarthy does not have the votes.

In fact Rep. Good told Steve Bannon that at least six Republicans would vote against McCarthy as Speaker. This is critical. The House Rules on selection of a Speaker require a simple majority of House Members present and voting to choose a Speaker. Politico.com now reports 433 House races settled, with 220 Republican and 213 Democratic. The two unsettled races both have Republicans leading: Lauren Boebert in Colorado’s Third and John Duarte in California’s Thirteenth. So Republicans will have at least 221 seats and probably 222 in the 118th Congress. If Kevin McCarthy lacks support from six Republicans, then he can count on only 216 votes.

If not McCarthy, who else?

Too many people suspect that McCarthy will not investigate Democrats in any meaningful way, as he has lately been promising.

In fact Republican rank-and-file use an expression that contributor Bradlee Dean uses often: controlled opposition. And the label makes sense. He could, as Newt Gingrich did in 1994, made Midterms a referendum on President Biden and the Democrats. He did not. As CNAV reported two days ago, he took FTX money to support non-conservative candidates in primaries. Rep. Good accuses McCarthy of interfering in the Fifth District nomination election in May. (That election went to convention, and Good shellacked opponent Dan Moy with 85 percent of delegate votes.)

So McCarthy seems to have made two mistakes, which together will likely stop him from becoming Speaker. First he made Rep. Good his personal enemy. Second he ran the Midterms campaign almost to fail to take the House. Now he’ll have a Conference of no more than 222 members. And every member has heard from constituents who are angry with McCarthy, for two reasons:

  • Interfering with the election of conservatives, and
  • Giving the Democrats, if not everything they wanted, certainly much that he didn’t have to give and shouldn’t have given.

Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have emerged as much better Speaker candidates. The path for any of them begins with making clear that, if McCarthy stands for Speaker in January, he will fail.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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