Kevin McCarthy, the frontrunner candidate for House Speaker, unexpectedly dropped out of the race Thursday afternoon minutes before the election. At 8AM, McCarthy (R-Ca) said he was running for Speaker and just four hours later he dropped out, sending the House of Representatives into chaos.
Visibly shocked, outgoing Speaker, John Boehner promptly announced that elections would be postponed. It was mayhem in the Longworth Office Building, where Republicans had been expected to nominate McCarthy.
"If we're going to be strong, we need to be united," McCarthy told press at a news conference after his announcement. The GOP needs a "new face" he said, and added that he did not want to win by just "220 votes" as he would have needed 218 votes on the House floor. After the press conference he tweeted “We're public servants. I have always put this Conference and Country ahead of myself. We need to unite behind one leader and get to work.”
When asked whether his recent statements that the Benghazi select committee had hurt Senator Clinton's poll numbers had swayed his decision, he replied “They sure didn’t help,” and laughed it off. He smiled his way through the press conference and then out the door.
Boehner is set to leave the House at the end of the month and there is already talk of finding someone to fill the speakership temporarily. McCarthy will remain majority leader, which means there will be no election for majority leader or majority whip. The House Freedom Caucus convened a meeting in the Cannon House Office Building immediately after the announcement. The Texas delegation, which has the most Republicans of any state, followed suit.
The House Republican Conference now has a serious problem. McCarthy was one of the only lawmakers in congress who was expected to be able to receive the requisite 218 votes to become Speaker.
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