For the first time in a century, the US House of Representatives is taking more than one ballot to choose its next Speaker of the House. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who was forced to abandon his bid for Speaker in 2015, is once again attempting to assert his influence in making a bid for the Speakership. But having already lost 11 times in his most recent attempt, the most of any potential Speaker since 1859, the chances of him becoming Speaker anytime soon are declining.
While the Republicans who have thus far refused to vote for McCarthy are being painted in the press as radical right-wingers, it may not be just ideological and policy differences behind their refusal to support McCarthy. For some, it may be personal.
Let’s face it. Kevin McCarthy isn’t a nice guy. And his staffers have a history of berating Members who buck the party line on votes. So now that the people who have been getting yelled at for nearly a decade by arrogant McCarthy staffers finally have the ability to stick it to McCarthy, why not do it?
There’s a reason McCarthy’s bid for the Speakership failed in 2015, and it was likely for this same reason. He ruffled too many feathers and made too many enemies. Now that is coming back to haunt him.
McCarthy’s opponents tried to warn him that he didn’t have the votes to become Speaker, but he wouldn’t listen. His ego is still driving him, and he believes that he’ll eventually win over his opponents with enough concessions.
It will be interesting to see whether he makes even more concessions to try to win more votes, as he still needs 18 votes to get the Speakership. That means convincing 18 of 21 dissenters to cast votes for him.
After a new Speaker is selected and Members are sworn in, the next matter of business will be for the House to pass a new rules package. This is where McCarthy has made concessions so far, allowing Members to force motions to sack the Speaker. But there may be other concessions needed too in order to win more votes.
You can’t feel sorry for McCarthy, whose problems are of his own making. He seems to be just as stubborn as his opponents, however, and it seems all but inevitable that he’ll be the next Speaker, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if he makes concessions that make it easier for real conservatives to get things done. And since we know the media is going to try to crucify Republicans for the next two years, it’s much better to have McCarthy be the fall guy rather than someone who’s actually decent.