House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise…..
The rumor going around is that Republicans ARE gonna lose their majority in the US House….
Along with that rumor is that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) is going to drop out of Congress….
The two guys named above seem to angling to get the expected House Minority leader spot….
“Everyone is talking about this,” said one veteran Republican House member who asked not to be named of the brewing rivalry. “We’re sizing them up, seeing who would be a better fit. It’s the prism that we look at them through now.”
As Ryan’s No. 2, McCarthy has the clearest path to the speakership, though it’s far from a lock. Distrust among the conference’s right flank contributed to his failed 2015 bid, when Ryan was recruited as a white knight. McCarthy did not lose interest, however, and he is trying to forge new alliances as well as patch up a once-rocky relationship with the House Freedom Caucus ahead of a potential second run.
The California Republican has a lot going for him that he did not three years ago, most notably his tight relationship with President Donald Trump, who calls him “my Kevin.” If Trump endorses McCarthy for the job, as McCarthy allies think he would, the president’s sway with conservatives could help seal the deal.
The 53-year old McCarthy has also been working closely with Vice President Mike Pence, his former House colleague. The duo is raising millions of dollars for GOP incumbents and hopefuls. McCarthy has also done countless favors for rank-and-file Republicans during his eight years in Republican leadership, from holding fundraisers to ensuring lawmakers’ pet bills get floor votes. Those chits could be invaluable to McCarthy, assuming Republicans hold on to the House.
“If there is an opportunity for Kevin to be speaker of the House, I think he’d do a fantastic job,” said Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), one of McCarthy’s closest allies. “I know he’s prepared for it and could step into the role at any time, but his focus right now is maintaining the majority.”
“It’s McCarthy’s to lose,” said another GOP lawmaker close with McCarthy. “I think he’s in a lot stronger place than last time because he’s got a close relationship with Trump.”
Yet with a potentially slimmer GOP majority next year — if Republicans even keep the House — McCarthy might not be able to afford even a small number of Freedom Caucus members to oppose him….
image…from left…Scalise, McCarthy and Ryan….Al Drago/Getty