Historic House Speaker Contest Remains Uncertain
Two faculty experts say Kevin McCarthy's chances are rapidly dwindlingSt
With California Republican Kevin McCarthy losing multiple votes Tuesday to become speaker of the House, a final outcome may not come until Wednesday – and may result in a new candidate, a veteran political scientist said Tuesday.
Until then, the work of the People’s House will mostly remain on hold.
“The focus is now on Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) with no votes cast (these last two rounds) for Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana). This suggests that Jordan will be the second major figure for a while. He'd have to have a way to reach out to encourage the moderate Republicans to support him,” said John Aldrich, a Duke professor of political science, speaking after a third round of voting early Tuesday evening.
Twenty members from the more conservative wing of House Republicans were backing Jordan on the third ballot. It was the first time since 1923 that the speaker was not elected on the first ballot.
“My guess is that this will go overnight with little change, and then either the Freedom Caucus folks will work a minimally satisfactory arrangement with McCarthy or there will be a new candidate from somewhere near the middle of the party emerge.”
Asher Hildebrand, an associate professor of the practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy, said if McCarthy loses votes his shot at becoming speaker is likely over.
“After three rounds of voting, the outcome of the contest for speaker of the House is more uncertain than ever,” said Hildebrand, who served for nearly 15 years in Democratic congressional offices and on campaigns.
“But at least two things are now abundantly clear: The most extreme members of the Republican conference have effectively seized control of their party, and whoever emerges as speaker will face the virtually impossible task of governing them.”