House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spent his Christmas weekend staring at a potential nightmare as members of his caucus voicing opposition to his bid for Speaker showed no signs of wavering, setting up a dramatic Jan. 3 Speaker’s vote on the first day of the 118th Congress.
McCarthy brushed off a question on Friday asking how he plans to lock up support over the holidays, saying he plans to “go home; have a really nice Christmas.” But it’s likely he spent the holiday weekend working the phones to try to avoid being embarrassed on the House floor.
In recent weeks, McCarthy has held meetings with his critics and detractors, but none of them have said his commitments have swayed them to support him.
At least five House Republicans have explicitly said or strongly indicated they will not vote for McCarthy to be Speaker, and several others have withheld support for him as they push for commitments on governing priorities and rules changes that would empower individual members.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said recently called it her “red line” for support of a Speaker.
McCarthy detractors tease that there could be a viable alternative candidate. But they will not name names for fear of putting a target on anyone’s back.
“I think on the second ballot, it will become a little more clear on who we think can get us to 218,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) said on a recent Politico podcast.
Good also said that whoever the McCarthy detractors’ preferred alternative would be would likely be a sitting member of the House, saying while it is “technically” possible for the Speaker to be a nonmember, it is “practically improbable.”
Democrats, meanwhile, are watching the drama unfold.