Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has just announced that he is dropping out of the race for House Speaker.
This is a breaking story, so details remain sparse. However, McCarthy’s exit today suggests that the power of the conservatives, who just yesterday threw their backing to Daniel Webster (R-Florida), is very strong. With two of the top guys from the old Republican leadership out, things are now certainly going to change in the House. This opens up the Speaker election, making it possible for a new compromise candidate to step forward. More important, that candidate is going to have to respect the demands of the conservative wing, which forced this election.
The fight is on! The Freedom Caucus, a group of about 40 to 50 conservative tea party Republicans in the House, has announced that they intend to back Daniel Webster (R-Florida) for Speaker, rejecting the establishment choice of Kevin McCarthy (R-California).
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said Webster’s focus on procedural changes convinced conservatives to back him. “We need to have a voice, we need to have power rather than have the speaker dictate to us,” he said. “It is clear that our constituents will simply not accept a continuation of the status quo, and that the viability of the Republican Party depends on whether we start listening to our voters and fighting to keep our promises,” the Freedom Caucus said in a statement. “We accordingly believe that, under the present circumstances and without significant changes to Conference leadership and process, Rep. Daniel Webster would be best equipped to earn back the trust of the American people as Speaker of the House.”
In the end I suspect the Speaker will not be Webster, but this announcement is going to force the Republican leadership to concede power to the conservatives, something the voters have clearly wanted for the past few elections.