Political Civil War: “You Will NEVER Be Speaker.” (UPDATED)

Last week, Congressman Kevin McCarthy was the presumptive soon-to-be House Speaker following John Boehner’s announced resignation. McCarthy was thought to be a “workable bridge” between establishment Republicans and their more conservative and increasingly frustrated, legislative counterparts.

That bridge has just been blown apart via a combination of McCarthy’s Benghazi Committee gaffe and certain Republican operatives intent on moving the party in a leaner and necessarily meaner direction that has it for the first time in a very long time, actually responding to the needs of those whose votes put them into office in the first place.

Above: Congressman Kevin McCarthy stood up before the Republican Caucus just prior to the votes being cast and declared he was not the right man for the job. The room went silent, and then behind the scenes, chaos ensued.


There were three primary weapons utilized by opponents of the pending McCarthy Speaker vote.

The first, and simplest, was McCarthy’s startlingly inept choice of words in describing the Benghazi Committee investigations as being politically motivated against Hillary Clinton vs an entity that simply wants the truth. The Clinton campaign is already using his words against the Republican Party. It was a glaring “not ready for prime time” moment that had some supporters questioning if he was capable of handling the higher profile position of House Speaker.

Second is a long-lingering and still potential ethics investigation into some of Congressman McCarthy’s past dealings. This effort was in no way related to the recent political stunt ethics charge brought by Democrats just yesterday against Mr. McCarthy following his Benghazi Committee comments. It is said some among the Republican “Freedom Caucus” let it be known that McCarthy had far too much baggage to be allowed a home in the Speaker’s office. It was a none too subtle and hardball political threat that clearly had an impact given McCarthy’s removing himself from contention no more than forty-eight hours later. Speculation is that shortly after McCarthy’s now infamous Benghazi remarks, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, who chairs the Freedom Caucus, personally stood in front of Congressman McCarthy and declared he would never be Speaker of the House.

Third, and perhaps most interesting, was the alleged intervention by a small but influential group of Republican donors who made it clear it was time the party “found a spine” and that the next Speaker must represent that new, tougher approach currently so popular among Republican voters. It appears likely this third factor was directly related to both the second and first.

The end result is Kevin McCarthy’s influence within the Republican Party is now greatly diminished. Word is his current position as Majority Leader will not last the year. The very same anti-establishment sentiment dominating the 2016 presidential race is working its way through the Republican leadership, and Congressman McCarthy’s brand of ideologically mushy, middle-of-the-road politicking had no place within that new direction.

The question that remains is who will emerge as the next front-runner to replace the equally mushy John Boehner as the next Speaker of the House. That particular battle is now underway and being waged with a ferocity not seen in decades.

(UPDATE: D.C. Whispers was just informed that it was a “significant” Republican donor who apparently holds the keys to John Boehner’s future employment prospects who told Mr. Boehner to issue his public support of Kevin McCarthy. This effort in no way intended to assist McCarthy in securing enough votes to win the Speakership but rather, just the opposite. It was a Machiavellian gesture that consolidated those opposed to his nomination because it effectively covered Congressman McCarthy in the political stink that is John Boehner.)

(UPDATE #2: Apparently the interaction between Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan was more volatile than initially reported. McCarthy is said to have personally extended an invitation to  Jordan to meet inside his  office with the intent of offering a prominent leadership role in the new Congress in exchange for Congressman Jordan’s support. When Jordan refused that initial offer, McCarthy’s tactics took on a decidedly more threatening tone. This was not well received by Congressman Jordan, a former Division I national wrestling champion and Ohio State wrestling coach, who is said to have then stood up, pointed down at Congressman McCarthy and declared, “You will never be Speaker. NEVER.”)



The Conservative Coup Is Now Underway…

House Speaker John Boehner let it be known late yesterday he intended to resign his position as Speaker of the House as well as his seat in Congress in October. This move was met with enthusiastic approval by conservative Republicans long ago disgusted by Speaker Boehner’s repeated refusal to take on the Big Government socialism that has become the hallmark of the Obama White House.

The Conservative Coup is now underway…

(ABOVE: John Boehner is out as Speaker. The man in the far left background is California Republican Kevin McCarthy who is now positioned to become the next Speaker of the House.)


The more conservative wing of the Republican-controlled House began to consolidate its influence early last summer. It is during that time they reached out to Majority Leader McCarthy and informed him he was their choice to become the next Speaker. McCarthy was said to be “very careful” in not participating directly with any plans to force Boehner out, but that he also made clear such a move also met with his unspoken approval.

Two significant moves by the California Republican sent undeniable signals that he had already broken away from Boehner and was open to a change in leadership. The first was McCarthy’s demand Congress kill the Import-Export bank while Boehner defended the controversial institution and fought to table any challenges to its existence. The second rift between the two legislators came when the shocking Planned Parenthood videos came to light. McCarthy immediately called for a suspension of all federal funding to the controversial organization while Boehner again demanded funding remain, not wanting to engage in a fight with Democrats over the issue.

Rumors are now circulating that it was the Planned Parenthood dispute that was the final straw for conservative Republicans who demanded Boehner step down. This time that demand was met, opening the door for Congressman McCarthy.

So who is Kevin McCarthy? 

McCarthy is a 50-year old former deli owner who started that business at just 19 years old and once described by a media report as, “square-headed and broad-shouldered.” It was that small business experience that planted very deep anti-government roots within McCarthy who during an interview several years ago said, “Every sandwich I sold, the city got more sales tax, the state got more.” By the 1990’s he was among the most prominent “young Republicans” of California. He is a relative newcomer to Washington D.C., having won election to Congress in 2006. His quiet yet assertive approach won him much support among his colleagues and resulted in his quick rise through the ranks of the Republican leadership. Ironically, he came to his current position as House Majority Leader due to conservative voters removing the former Majority Leader from Congress, Eric Cantor.

In the eight years he has since been in Congress, McCarthy has generated support among both Tea Party-affiliated members as well as longer-term establishment figures – no easy task. McCarthy is known for a somewhat informal quality that puts a cross-section of members at ease in a variety of situations while at the same time, he is able to maintain a focus for the job at hand which presently, is a far more concerted push-back against the Big Government policies of the Obama administration and its Democratic supporters in the House and Senate.

“He gets sh*t done.”

That is a now common description of the possible soon-to-be Speaker of the House. Congressman McCarthy feels comfortable working among both moderate and more conservative Republicans so long as they are all engaged in what he views as their most important task – defeating the Obama agenda. It was John Boehner’s increasing unwillingness to fight the president that finally pushed the normally loyal McCarthy to break away from Boehner and signal to others he would be willing to take over should Boehner find himself without the support necessary to remain in the luxurious confines of the Speaker’s office.

That moment has arrived.

The king is dead.

Long live the king…