The political world thought the Republican Party would have a viable nominee for a new Speaker of the House as of Oct. 8, 2015, but the lead candidate dropped out of the race at the last second. The presumed candidate was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). House Republicans met last Thursday in a closed-door meeting to vote and decide on their nominee for Speaker. McCarthy took that time to announce that he was withdrawing from the race.
The current Speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio), announced on Sept. 25, 2015 he would be resigning from not just the speakership, but also from his job as a member of the House of Representatives. However, Boehner said he will continue to serve until the House of Representatives votes in a new speaker, The Hill reported.
To fill the void he will be leaving, the Republican caucus needs to nominate a candidate to run for Speaker of the House. Kevin McCarthy was the clear favorite to take over for Boehner, but McCarthy decided and announced that he was not the right man for the job.
The announcement was met with extreme shock and awe from all of the people in the room, including an audible crying coming from some members, according to NPR. The meeting was immediately adjourned and the vote was delayed.
There are 435 representatives in the House, 247 of which are Republican. To become Speaker, the candidate would need 218 votes. About 40 of the House are hard-right conservatives who are part of the Freedom Caucus, also known as “Tea Party” candidates.
Those 40 members have not been satisfied with Boehner and believed that McCarthy would be equally inefficient. They publicly supported a different candidate for Speaker, Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). Not having the support of the Freedom Caucus put McCarthy in a position where he would not have enough votes to win, and it would divide the Party even more than it is now, according to The Boston Globe.
Another detriment to McCarthy’s run for the speakership was a comment he made about the Benghazi Committee, which has been investigating terrorist attacks that killed four Americans on Sept. 11, 2012. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State during those attacks, has been blamed by some for those deaths.
McCarthy said, “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought,” on The Fox News show, Hannity.
With McCarthy out, other names have come up to take over the speakership. The most popular of those is Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan is currently the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives, and he was the Vice Presidential nominee in 2012.
Many members of the House have expressed their support for Ryan to run, but he has said many times that he does not want to be Speaker. However, in the wake of McCarthy dropping out, Ryan has not yet rejected the idea outright and may be considering it, according to The Boston Globe.
Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times, NPR, The Boston Globe and The Hill was used in this report.