According to a report by Politico's Olivia Beavers, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's path to the House speakership is fraught with pitfalls that are largely the fault of his allegiance to Donald Trump and some of the president's extremist allies in the House.
According to Beaver's report, should the GOP not see a massive influx of new Republican House members after the 2022 midterm election, the California lawmaker could be blamed -- making his chances of ascending to the speakership in place of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) no sure thing.
"While the GOP is widely favored to take back the House, McCarthy needs a majority of votes on the floor in early 2023 in order to ascend to speaker. The minority leader's math problem is simple: The fewer seats Republicans pick up in the midterms, the more powerful his skeptics will become," she wrote, adding that one Republican willing to go on the record claimed McCarthy needs a massive flood of GOP newcomers.
"Five or eight [pick-ups] is a whole different ball game than 20 to 30," explained Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), a member of the far-right "Freedom Caucus."
According to the Politico report, McCarthy is feeling heat from both the extremist wing -- while hoping that ally Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) will rally them to his side -- and the moderate wing which has felt disenfranchised since he went all-in for Trump despite his complaints about having the election stolen from him.
"As assiduously as the affable 56-year-old has fundraised and recruited to turn the House red, he's expending just as much effort to please both the often-unruly right without alienating the handful of centrists whose support he may need," Beavers wrote before adding, "His decision to visit Trump in Florida three weeks after Jan. 6 alienated some GOP members who'd hoped the ex-president's power would wane. Since then, a small but potentially pivotal clutch of centrists has privately vented about feeling swept to the side following the deadly siege."
One point of contention was his decision to back off supporting the Jan 6th riot commission, setting aside a GOP House member's proposal.
"McCarthy fumbled bipartisan efforts to establish an independent Jan. 6 commission, telling members he wouldn't whip against an agreement Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) helped negotiate, then later reversing himself — one day after speaking with Freedom Caucus chief Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)," the Politico report states.
That led one GOP lawmaker -- who wished to remain anonymous -- to complain about McCarthy's flip-flop, telling Politico, "He blew us up. He didn't have to do that."
The lawmaker then warned, "He's raising a lot of money, but Kevin should be worried about his reasonable flank."
Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) seconded that sentiment when complaining about McCarthy's closeness to Trump.
"I have repeatedly requested at conferences and other places that we don't wrap ourselves too much around former President Trump. For us to continue to embrace him in the face of [his Jan. 6 response] is a huge mistake," he complained.
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