In GOP upheaval, a front-runner — and discontent

McCarthy may have adverse affect on conservatives.
Associated Press
Jun 13, 2014

California Republican Kevin McCarthy quickly amassed support to become House majority leader on Thursday, but his likely ascent shut conservatives out of the chamber's top leadership jobs, leaving them fuming and exposing deep fissures within the GOP.

Within 48 hours of Rep. Eric Cantor's lightning primary-election downfall, McCarthy and his deputies aggressively rounded up votes with a pitch to Southern Republicans and pointed private conversations on the House floor in a race that occasionally had the markings of a personality-driven contest for class president.

Republicans sought to project an aura of unity but failed to quiet conservative complaints that such quick party elections after Cantor's defeat gave them little time to rally around an alternative who better reflects the right's ideology and the emboldened tea party. Votes are scheduled for next Thursday for majority leader, the No. 2 job behind Speaker John Boehner, and for majority whip, the No. 3 party post.

But that may well not be the end of it. Several Republicans asserted that next week's action won't quiet ambitious lawmakers or factions in the GOP caucus, and leadership contests after November's national midterm elections could produce a brand new lineup.

Despite conservative discontent, Boehner's job does not appear to be in serious jeopardy for now. But some lawmakers noted there was a limit to his security.

"The speaker is speaker in 24-hour increments. Literally 50 guys can call a revolt," said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a Boehner ally.

Cantor suffered a stunning defeat to little-known college professor Dave Brat in Tuesday's Virginia Republican primary, a race that underscored the rift within the GOP between pragmatic, establishment conservatives and farther-right contenders pressing for no-compromise ideological stances. Brat cast Cantor's past positive comments on possible immigration changes as amnesty for those here illegally — a characterization Cantor heatedly rejected — and turned it into a defining issue in the race.

Cantor is the first House majority leader to lose his seat by being defeated in a party primary election since the post was created in 1899, according to Eric Ostermeier, research associate at the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

Cantor announced on Wednesday that he would step down as majority leader at the end of July. He endorsed McCarthy as his successor and the House whip moved swiftly to secure the votes.

"I don't think anyone counts votes better around here, and I think he has a very, very commanding lead," said Rep. Cole.

McCarthy, the four-term congressman from Bakersfield, California, will face Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the Rules Committee, in the contest for majority leader. Another Texan with stronger bona fides in the conservative ranks, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, passed on the race on Thursday, saying, "After prayerful reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right office at the right time for me and my family."

If conservatives were powerless to put the brakes on McCarthy's quick rise they weren't keeping quiet about their frustration.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was among several lawmakers calling on GOP leaders to put off the election, suggesting it was rigged.

"Leadership's tactic has always been call the election as fast as you can, don't let anybody have time to organize except those who had the heads-up and the head start," King said.

Hensarling had been the conservatives' choice, and King and others had no one else to get behind.

"I'm looking for a candidate that has not supported some form of amnesty, and Jeb fit that, and now we don't have an announced candidate that fits that and I'm very troubled by that," King said. "Because if there's any single issue that cost Eric Cantor his seat, it was amnesty."

The discontent seemed to irritate some of McCarthy's supporters who mocked criticism that their candidate wasn't conservative enough.

"When they say 'More conservative this, more conservative that,' it doesn't mean anything to me. The more exotic members around here once again failed to have a candidate, they failed to show up. They don't debate. So they don't like any of the candidates," said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who was lining up votes for McCarthy.

"They just come out here to you guys and complain, and they blog and they Facebook, but when it's time to actually raise money and go recruit candidates and win elections so that you can stop Obama which is what they say they want to do, they don't have the capability of doing it," Nunes said.

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., said some conservatives are "never satisfied."

While the majority leader race narrowed, the contest to replace McCarthy as whip expanded with the addition of Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana.

Already seeking the post were Reps. Peter Roskam of Illinois, who has been chief deputy whip, and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. He is head of the Republican Study Committee, the organization representing conservative GOP lawmakers.

Currently all four top GOP leaders are from states President Barack Obama carried in 2012: Ohio, Virginia, California and Washington state. Several Republicans have argued that members of the GOP leadership should be limited to lawmakers from deep red states that voted for the GOP in recent presidential elections.

"I think that's a silly argument," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who argued that in the House "we don't elect people by state, we elect them by districts."

Speaker Boehner, asked whether he would endorse McCarthy, sidestepped the question, saying, "I can work with whoever gets elected."

In a closed-door GOP caucus on Wednesday, Boehner stressed the importance of unity ahead of midterm elections when the GOP is expected to increase its majority in the House and possibly win control of the Senate.

After the national elections, another round of contests for party leaders will occur, and Republicans could field a new slate of candidates.

 

Comments

AJ Oliver

As usual, AP gets it at least partly wrong . .
At every oppoptunity, Brat called out Cantor and the GOP for crony capitalism, and being in bed with Wall Street. Cantor took the lead in sabotaging legislation aimed at halting insider trading by members of Congress.
"Brat cast Cantor's past positive comments on possible immigration changes as amnesty for those here illegally — a characterization Cantor heatedly rejected — and turned it into a defining issue in the race."

Contango

Re: "the GOP for crony capitalism, and being in bed with Wall Street."

Not unlike the lip service and hypocrisy that the Dems display?

Which party voted OVERWHELMING for the bail-out in 2008?

Why did Speaker Pelosi have to castigate the Repubs for not voting for it?

First the country club, east coast Repubs need to be driven from DC, THEN the central planning, social engineering Dems.

The Big Dog's back

Yep, the Repubs are similar to the suicide bombers. They would blow the whole thing up with them in it just to spite the Dems.

Contango

Wall St. SURE threw a lot of campaign cash toward Sen. Obama in '08 as a THANK YOU after the Dem orchestrated bail-out.

coasterfan

Not sure why you consider the Bush Bailout an example of Democrats' hypocrisy. We were for it then, and we're for it now, especially as it's become rather obvious that the bailout worked as planned.

Republicans, of course, would disagree on that, but then they actually believe that the economy is worse today under Obama than it was in 2008 under Bush.

Darwin's choice

Republicans actually believe that the economy is worse today under obama, and probably worse that anytime in history, and they, like most of the nation's people who are finally seeing the puppet for what he really is, would be correct!

Worst president in history.

obama/failing

The Big Dog's back

We understand that right wingnuts aren't the brightest bulbs in the pack.

Pterocarya frax...

Earth to Darwin...

jazzbo

Darwin-

You must be out of your mind !

SamAdams

It's readily apparent that Speaker Boehner needs to get together with Barack Obama to see in the news reports what he should have already known. Eric Cantor lost the primary for one overall reason: He isn't a conservative. Unfortunately, McCarthy makes him look like one by comparison!

Congrats to Speaker Boehner from all of the Democrats in DC. Way to show you're one and the same with those who are destroying the country as opposed to those who'd really, REALLY like to see government reined in before full blown tyranny ensues.

Contango

Re: "Eric Cantor lost the primary,"

I read that the guy was SO arrogant that he wasn't even out campaigning in his district the day of the election - he was in Washington.

Not to worry, he's a bright man. He'll be back as a lobbyist or some other parasitical political species.

deertracker

Exactly! Arrogance and a sense of entitlement were on full display here. I agree, he will back as a lobbyist and get even richer. It was great to see this guy get a serious dose of reality.

Contango

Re: "he will back as a lobbyist and get even richer."

Not unlike BIG LIB's like Rep. Richard Gephardt.

He formed a lobbying group named the Gephardt Group. They have Goldman Sachs among their lists of clients.

http://www.gephardtdc.com/client...

Hypocrisy.

coasterfan

Wonder if Cantor voted to extend Unemployment Benefits? SNAP!!!

Actually, that could be a good thing. The only time that GOP congressmen show empathy is when the issue affects their immediate family. As Arianna Huffington said, "What we need is for each Republican to have a family member who is unemployed, gay, black and who doesn't have healthcare".

Amen to that...

Darwin's choice

Obama talking about Iraq in 2011. "We are leaving behind a sovereign, solid, stable and reliant Iraq." LIAR.

obama/failing still.....

AnAmerican

.

AnAmerican

@Coasterfan:
Are you serious? You don't think that 50% of the population, Republicans, do not love/have sons, fathers, daughters, mothers, etc. that are black, gay, unemployed or no healthcare? Contrary to what you have been led to believe we embrace and love those whether or not they are gay, interracial, etc. Many of us are currently unemployed and are worse off than five years ago.

Please realize some of those you admire are spewing self-righteousness and hate. Neither conservatives, republicans or tea party members are racist or intolerant hate mongers. Please tolerate our conservative small government ideals as we tolerate your ideals.

The Big Dog's back

"Neither conservatives, republicans or tea party members are racist or intolerant hate mongers."

Really? Read the news lately? Those aren't Liberals shooting people, making racist comments or wearing gorilla suits. Maybe you need to get out more.

AnAmerican

From your past comments it appears you are more racist than those you rail against. Sorry, I have to call it as I see it. It is hard to distinguish you from those you level claims against.

SamAdams

Actually, while I have no idea what political affiliation is claimed by Gorilla Guy, I DO know that the vast majority (all but one in recent memory, and even that one's iffy) of mass shooters have been (hold onto your seat, now, Big Dog) LIBERAL DEMOCRATS! Ouch.

Pterocarya frax...

Do you have any evidence for those claims, or do you just know it in your heart?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I do agree, Pter. For some it is easy such as Ariel Castro (D) or Scott DeKraai (tea party). But in the case of Nidal Hassan neither Virginia where he registered to vote nor Texas allow for partisan registration (which was interesting and fun to learn). Granted I haven't spent days researching or calling county election boards but unless we see for whom he voted or other context such as Scott's tea party license plate frame he literally couldn't register as either party in either state where he lived.

Dr. Information

@all liberals. You want proof but fail to give it with your bogus out of this world claims.

Doesn't work that way losers.

deertracker

@ BD
Really! Denial is a dangerous thing.

deertracker

Two wrong don't make a right pooh. Equally guilty.

coasterfan

Actually, Cantor is a conservative. It's just that his party shifted radically to the Right, since 2009. Of course, like a little fish that doesn't realize it's in water, you can't see that, can you?

Here's a hint: if you #1: use the word "tyranny" to describe a very moderate Obama government, #2 think Cantor isn't a conservative, #3 actually think Obama is destroying the country while giving George W. Bush a free pass for actually DOING that...

...you just might be a TeaPartier. Here's your Nascar ticket. Please return 20 IQ points to the educational institution of your choice.

deertracker

What 20 IQ points? They have no points to return!

coasterfan

The article mentioned that McCarthy's ascent exposes deep fissures within the GOP. Hmm...didn't the TeaParty already do that?

Darwin's choice

Really have your panties in a bunch today, eh cheerleader?
While this may shine the light away from the weeks failure for a minute, don't worry, the idiot in the white house will do something else ignorant by weeks end,and be right back under the spotlight!

deertracker

What a witty response!

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