Last Updated on December 7, 2022
US Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is threatening House Republicans that they had better get in line and support his bid for Speaker of the House or expect a disastrous Democrat will take over; however, there is an idea germinating in DC that a more unifying figure with a backbone is somewhere in the background getting ready to come forward.
Currently, McCarthy does not have the votes needed to win the position and the outlook for him to win people over after years of spinless leadership is unlikely. He already faces one challenger, US Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ).
McCarthy reacted to the news that Biggs will be challenging him on the floor vote for the highly coveted position, saying, “if you have a challenge on the floor, then you turn the floor over to the Democrats so if we don’t do this, right, the Democrats can take the majority. If we play games on the floor, the Democrats can end up picking who the Speaker is.”
As it stands now, in a preliminary vote, at least 31 House Republicans voted for Biggs, and 5 Republicans refrained from voting, saying they won’t support McCarthy’s leadership bid.
Jonathan Martin, CNN analyst and senior political columnist at Politico, appeared on CNN and predicted that neither McCarthy nor Biggs would be the unifying character needed to win.
“McCarthy is in real danger of losing,” Martin told the CNN panel, adding:
“He’s got a little bit of time to work those, those members, he has a lot of tools at his disposal, right? He has a lot of carrots and sticks and, for the next month, he will be trying to reel in just enough people with sort of various carrots,” Martin added, alluding to how McCarthy plans to bribe his supporters.
Even Biggs, who made it official this week that he has thrown in ‘hat in the ring’ to run on the floor against McCarthy, conceded that it was unlikely he would win the Speaker, telling media earlier in the month that there may be another candidate who could emerge and have enough support to take the speakership.
“We don’t have to settle for McCarthy; there may be a more unifying figure to come forward still,” Biggs told Steve Bannon on the War Room program before the closed-door vote of the Republican Caucus earlier.
Martin’s comments confirm what Biggs said, that a third candidate is likely to be in the running. Martin explained to the CNN panel:
“Well, the obvious backup is Steve Scalise who is seen as a mainstream conservative and isn’t as despised by the far right as McCarthy is in the house.
There is no, Paul Ryan waiting in the wings here who can step forward and be a sort of broadly popular and sort of super impressive pick. It’s no offense against Steve Scalise, he’s perfectly capable but he just doesn’t have the sort of background that Paul Ryan had,” Martin said.
Kaitlyn Collins, on the CNN panel, came to McCarthy’s defense: “Well, I’ve been struck by the Republicans who have come out and support of Kevin McCarthy at this very difficult time. Saying, basically, if we don’t stay united, Democrats are going to end up picking who’s our house speaker, because the margin is so dang slim,” attempting to give McCarthy’s threats credibility.”
“Yeah, look, this doesn’t happen in Congress but it has happened in states over the years where you have a very tight legislature. And there’s some kind of a bipartisan deal to elect a compromise candidate, I think, in a very polarized, DC, then that’s still pretty darn unlikely that you would see that kind of a picture emerge from the political center If you will, ” Martin said in response, adding:
“I think it’s more likely Caitlin that will see a Steve Scalise just a sort of conservative back-up plan. If McCarthy, can’t get there.”
Biggs never said who he thought would be a more unifying character to the Republican, who could secure the vote as Speaker. The battle for the position promises to go on until the January 3 vote.