The Humiliation of Kevin McCarthy Will Continue Until Morale Improves

McCarthy has now failed to become Speaker of the House six times in two days.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during his weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol on November 21, 2019 in Washington, DC.(Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

Update: Kevin McCarthy has, for a sixth time, lost his bid to become Speaker of the House, with the votes in the sixth round of voting unchanged from the fourth and fifth.

After three rounds of voting Tuesday, Kevin McCarthy was still more than a dozen votes short in his quest to become Speaker of the House. After three more ballots on Wednesday, only one person’s mind had changed, a previous McCarthy supporter who switched her vote to “present.” 


Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida accepted a nomination to be the Republican alternative and picked up 20 votes in the fourth round, while Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana voted “present” on the fourth ballot. As a result, the House went to a fifth round of voting, where the outcome was exactly the same, down to Spartz’s “present” vote. Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries won the support of all 212 Democrats and a plurality of all votes cast, but no candidate achieved the necessary majority to win.

And for McCarthy, his chances of winning what is sure to be the worst job in America appear to be slipping even further away.

Supporters and opponents of McCarthy traded personal barbs as the stalemate continued. Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio, a House Freedom Caucus member, nominated McCarthy for the fifth speaker vote. He then rattled off a list of demands that McCarthy had met from conservative House rebels seeking to sink his bid to become speaker, and said support from him and other Republicans, such as Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, was proof McCarthy was conservative enough for the job. 

“As I’ve listened to my friends, 20 of whom have opposed Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, the root issue is this—they do not trust Kevin McCarthy,” said Davidson, who last year compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust. “Right now, there are a lot of my colleagues that don’t trust 20 or more of my fellow Republicans.”


Following a brief speech in support of Jeffries from Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado rose to once again nominate Donalds. Boebert conceded that McCarthy had met the holdouts on some demands, but questioned if McCarthy was the right person for the job if he hadn’t suggested those reforms himself. 

Boebert also confirmed that former President Donald Trump had encouraged her to capitulate and vote for McCarthy. 

“Let’s stop with the campaign smears and tactics to get people to turn against us, even having my favorite president call us and tell us we need to knock this off,” Boebert said.

“I think it actually needs to be reversed,” she continued. “The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that sir, you do not have the votes, and it’s time to withdraw.”

After the fifth round, Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida rose to speak and nominated McCarthy yet again, for a sixth time. “It’s Groundhog’s day,” Cammack said. 

Still, it’s not getting any better for McCarthy. Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, another House conservative, voted for McCarthy five straight times. InBut in an interview with CNN, however, Buck suggested McCarthy should consider stepping away in favor of Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the #2 House Republican. He also said he wasn’t committed to continuing to vote for McCarthy after five rounds of voting. 

“Stay tuned and I’ll let you know what I’m doing in the future,” Buck said.

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