Who Are the Republicans Opposing McCarthy’s Speaker Bid?
WASHINGTON — Some of the hard-right lawmakers opposing Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, for speaker have nursed grudges against him for years. Others have not even been sworn in to Congress yet.
The revolt against Mr. McCarthy, who for years had been considered the obvious choice for speaker should Republicans win control of the House, has been led by a small coterie of ultraconservative lawmakers who have been the most outspoken about their opposition to him. It also includes a larger but quieter group of lawmakers who have long agitated for changes in the way the House operates, and a set of newcomers who have remained largely silent but are weighing their options.
With a razor-thin majority and Democrats all but certain to oppose him unanimously, Mr. McCarthy must secure near total support among Republicans to win the top post.
He has made a cornucopia of concessions in an attempt to sway his detractors, most notably by agreeing to a rule that would allow a snap vote at any time to oust the speaker. But the rebels have remained unmoved, even after prodding from former President Donald J. Trump, the most popular figure in the party, and a colleague, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
These are the House Republicans imperiling Mr. McCarthy’s bid for speaker:
A group of five lawmakers were early leaders of the charge against Mr. McCarthy, with Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Andy Biggs of Arizona, the former Freedom Caucus chairman, emerging as the most vocal. The pair were two of Mr. Trump’s most aggressive allies during his presidency.
The group also includes Representatives Matt Rosendale of Montana, Ralph Norman of South Carolina and Bob Good of Virginia. Mr. Norman, an ultraconservative lawmaker, wrote to Mark Meadows, then Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, days before President Biden’s inauguration advising him to urge Mr. Trump to “invoke Marshall Law,” as reported by Talking Points Memo.
Mr. Good, a self-described “biblical conservative” and former administrator at Liberty University, ascended to power after winning a primary against an incumbent Republican conducted by drive-through convention. He mounted the challenge after the incumbent, Denver Riggleman, himself an arch-conservative, faced backlash in his district for officiating a same-sex wedding for two of his campaign volunteers.
The ideological hard-liners
Fueling the fight against Mr. McCarthy is a group of hard-liners who have long complained that the House’s power structures give leaders too much influence and have argued for changes that would make it easier for small factions of dissenters to obstruct and change legislation.
Representative Chip Roy of Texas, the wonky former chief of staff to Senator Ted Cruz who is steeped in procedural knowledge, has been among the most vocal advocates of such an overhaul. So has Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the current Freedom Caucus chairman who played a key role in an unsuccessful plot by Mr. Trump to fire the acting attorney general who stood by the results of the 2020 election.
Another key player is Representative Dan Bishop of North Carolina, who was the architect of his state’s “bathroom bill,” which required transgender people in public buildings to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate.
The incoming freshmen
No Republican member-elect has yet declared opposition to Mr. McCarthy. But a few incoming members from deeply conservative districts have hinted at it or publicized their skepticism about his leadership, and others have stayed silent about how they plan to vote.
Representatives-elect Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, Eli Crane of Arizona and Andy Ogles of Tennessee have all signed on to letters indicating that they are unsatisfied with Mr. McCarthy’s concessions thus far.
“I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people telling me that they don’t want me to vote for Kevin McCarthy, and I do listen to what my constituents say,” Ms. Luna, who worked at Turning Point USA, the hard-right activist network for young conservatives, told Stephen K. Bannon on his podcast over the weekend.
Mr. Crane, a former member of the Navy SEALs, has styled himself in the image of Mr. Trump, campaigning as an “America First candidate who is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and has the courage to take a stand against cancel culture and the radical left.” He has also denounced an “invasion” at the U.S. border with Mexico.
Mr. Ogles is a former mayor who has called for the impeachment of Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
There are many of other incoming freshmen from ruby-red seats who could also defect, including Representative-elect Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma. Mr. Brecheen promised voters that he would resist being “groomed for conformity into moderate positions” in Washington and told a local paper last month that he was praying about whether to support Mr. McCarthy for speaker.