Republican Launches Challenge to Kevin McCarthy’s House Speaker Bid

Republican Launches Challenge to Kevin McCarthy’s House Speaker Bid
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition annual leadership meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 19, 2022. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who lost a bid for House majority leader last month, announced Tuesday he would challenge House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) speakership.

“I’m running for Speaker to break the establishment,” Biggs wrote on Twitter, while linking to an article that he wrote in the Daily Caller. “Kevin McCarthy was created by, elevated by, and maintained by the establishment.”

Biggs, who previously headed the House Freedom Caucus, wrote that “establishment Republicans want to see a continuation of the Swamp ... and, even phony conservative types, claim that McCarthy is the only guy for them.”

“The purpose of the establishment is not to better the lives of Americans, the purpose is to gain and keep power. If anyone besides the establishment class experiences positive effects from the rule of the establishment, it is merely serendipitous,” he continued.

Biggs wrote that Republican establishment types had “better do better for the American people this time or else,” adding, “Or else what? And, when has the conservative movement, or for that matter, when has the Republican base had a better time to actually change the direction of the nation than ... the pending election for House speaker?”

The Epoch Times has contacted McCarthy’s office for comment. Neither McCarthy nor his office has publicly commented on Biggs’s bid.

Republicans flipped control of the House during the Nov. 8 midterms by a slim margin. It means that McCarthy cannot afford many defections during the Jan. 3 roll call for the new Congress.

Many expect Democrats to largely back their leader for House speaker. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) was elected as majority leader last month, and there have been no indicators that any Democrat will challenge his bid.

Five Republican lawmakers have gone on the record in saying they will not vote for McCarthy for any reason. Things become more complicated if those lawmakers merely vote present instead of for or against McCarthy.

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) told Axios on Monday that he believes McCarthy won’t get the House speaker title, adding that he won’t vote for him. There are “individuals who, in private conversations, have acknowledged that once it’s clear ... it’s not going to be Kevin McCarthy, they are interested,” he said.

“I think you’re going to see more people come out publicly in the very near future … [some] are privately acknowledging they are not going to vote for him, and that’s growing,” he said.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz) (2nd L) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 17, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz) (2nd L) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 17, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
What will happen next year on the House floor is not yet clear. If McCarthy cannot secure 218 votes during the first ballot, it will go to subsequent elections until someone gets 218 votes, according to the House Historian.

Fourteen House speaker elections have gone to multiple ballots. Two came in the late 1700s, 11 occurred the 1800s, and one took place 1923, nearly 100 years ago.

Some Republican lawmakers in the House have indicated that they are working with Democrats to elect a consensus speaker if McCarthy can’t get the speakership nod.

“After multiple, multiple, multiple votes, and they’re not willing to [budge] ... We will do our best to put something together and get an agreeable Republican,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told Axios.

More Details

Some of McCarthy’s allies in the GOP have criticized members of the House Freedom Caucus for not backing his speakership bid. More than 20 members of the Republican Governance Group sent a letter (pdf) on Dec. 1 calling for the party to back McCarthy.

However, some Republicans told Axios this week that they believe McCarthy can get enough votes on Jan. 3. “There are no other alternatives … Kevin McCarthy is the odds-on favorite,” said Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), noting that a lengthy election with multiple rounds of votes would be a “rough start” for Republicans.

Former President Donald Trump has signaled that he would back McCarthy as House speaker. During the Nov. 8 elections, the 45th president told Fox News that McCarthy had his support while he denigrated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who easily won reelection as the Senate Republican leader in November.

Since the Nov. 8 election, Trump has not publicly commented on other Republican House members possibly voting against McCarthy.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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