Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has launched his bid to become Speaker of the House in a letter on his official government website, but his plans to take the gavel from Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been massively hampered after it quickly became clear that no “red wave” would appear Tuesday night, and it remains uncertain which party will have the majority in the House.
The first warning, of course, came after McCarthy’s prediction one year ago this week, as MSNBC’s Steve Benen noted today, that Republicans would flip more than 60 seats on Election Day did not happen — not even close. And in McCarthy’s usual style, he not only had bragged they would, he made it personal.
“If you’re a Democrat and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you’re in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe,” McCarthy told reporters last week, as The Hillhad reported.
“It’ll be more than 70 [Democratic seats] that will be competitive. There’s many that are going to lose their races based upon walking off a cliff from [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] pushing them,” McCarthy said nastily. “She may not care if she lose. She lost 63 the last time she was Speaker moving policy that the country didn’t care for.”
“Many believe she won’t stay around” in Congress, McCarthy added, telling House Democrats: “So she’s not going to be there to defend you.”
That turned out to be massively false. At best, if Republicans do take the House majority, MSNBC has been projecting about 225 GOP seats, so a majority of around seven or so.
The second sign was McCarthy’s disastrous “Take Back the House” party during which he apparently expected to announce he would run for Speaker.
It was conspicuously delayed. By hours.
This was the scene at midnight for his expected announcement, via CBS News’ Caitlin Huey-Burns.
\u201cScene at Kevin McCarthy\u2019s election night event at midnight:\u201d— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@Caitlin Huey-Burns) 1667969727
\u201cIt\u2019s 1:50am on the east coast. The bar has made their last call, Billy Joel\u2019s \u201cWe didn\u2019t start the fire\u201d is playing over the speakers and a pretty mellow party crowd is awaiting remarks from @GOPLeader\u201d— Garrett Haake (@Garrett Haake) 1667976740
\u201cMcCarthy takes the stage at 2 AM, as Networks go of the air\u201d— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@Caitlin Huey-Burns) 1667977169
And yet, despite the lengthy delay of several hours, McCarthy remained cocky and apparently unaware of how things work.
\u201c\u201cWhen you wake up tomorrow, we will be in the majority and Nancy Pelosi will be in the minority,\u201d McCarthy says. (Though new Congress doesn\u2019t start until January.)\u201d— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@Caitlin Huey-Burns) 1667977311
\u201c\u201cIt is clear that we are going to take the House back.\u201d\n\n\u2014 House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, with heavy uncertainty still surrounding House control, declares victory.\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1667977464
Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich at 1:47 AM tweeted, “GOP source tells me ‘if it wasn’t clear before it should be now. We have a Trump problem.'”
Remember, that’s from a Fox News reporter.
She continued, saying, if there’s a slim GOP majority, the “Knives are out for Kevin McCarthy.”
\u201cSecond GOP source sees below tweet, texts me \u201cKnives are out for Kevin McCarthy, if he is under 225, expect Scalise to make a move quickly for speaker\u201d\u201d— Jacqui Heinrich (@Jacqui Heinrich) 1667976814
Late Tuesday night The Atlantic’s Tim Alberta noted, “Folks, if you’re wondering how Speaker Kevin McCarthy would handle a 6- or 7-seat majority, it’s worth considering there may never be a Speaker Kevin McCarthy at all.”
In other words, McCarthy does not appear to have a lock on the Speaker’s gavel, even if the Republicans take the majority.
Indeed, just past midnight, CBS News Chief Election and Campaign Correspondent Robert Costa reported: “Several House GOP sources tell CBS after midnight tonight that they are now increasingly worried that if GOP wins a narrow House majority, it’ll be utter chaos for McCarthy/leadership team. Rep. [Marjorie Taylor Greene] & her allies would have much more sway in a tight GOP House, the sources predict.”
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes summed up what some appeared to be thinking.
“One of the possibilities currently on the table is Speaker Kevin McCarthy presiding over, like, a 10-vote R majority in the house, which will be a *spectacular* s-show.”
To which former Biden White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki replied, “If he can get elected speaker with that narrow of a majority…”
A reporter for the far right Newsmax adds, “Despite the talk of Trump today, a lot of the blame in GOP circles is being allocated to Rep. Kevin McCarthy who insiders say may not have the votes to be Speaker in the likely event Republicans take House control.”
It’s not looking like an “easy ascension” to the Speakership for Leader McCarthy.
“House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is moving swiftly to lock down the votes to claim the speaker’s gavel as a hard-right faction of his conference discusses whether to mount a long-shot challenge to complicate his bid and force concessions in the process, according to multiple GOP sources,” CNN reports Wednesday at 1:45 PM ET.
“McCarthy privately spoke to his closest advisers and confidantes in a Wednesday morning phone call just hours after his party appeared on track to take the House but fell short of their bullish expectations of a massive GOP landslide. The California Republican tapped a group of members to be on his whip team that will help him secure the 218 votes in order to win the speakership in January, with GOP lawmakers on the call promising to ‘work hard to get him elected,’ according to a source familiar with the matter.”
“But McCarthy’s easy ascension to the speakership will be determined in large part by the size of a potential GOP majority. If McCarthy maintains a narrow majority, then the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus could stand in the way of his leadership ambitions. CNN has not yet projected a Republican takeover of the chamber.”
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
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