Wednesday, June 29, 2022
HomeWorldTrump's influence looms over McCarthy's race to be next House speaker

Trump’s influence looms over McCarthy’s race to be next House speaker

Donald Trump and his allies are starting to dangle the threat of the speakership over House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s head, teeing up a yearlong dynamic that is already emboldening the MAGA wing of the GOP conference and influencing the California Republican’s decision-making as he crafts a strategy to win back the House next year.

Some in Trump’s orbit have even floated the wild — but technically possible — idea that the former President should make a play for the gavel. While it’s a highly unlikely scenario, the fact it’s even being teased in some conservative circles is putting McCarthy on notice and reminding Republicans of the leverage Trump still has over the party.



Underscoring the idea that Trump has the power to make or break McCarthy’s quest for the speakership, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado said Trump “matters in everything he weighs in on,” so “obviously” that applies to a speaker’s race. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said “of course” Trump would have influence over the outcome if he got involved. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee said Trump’s voice indeed “carries weight.” And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said Trump’s opinion would have an impact “big time” and “100%.”

If the former President were to endorse McCarthy for speaker, it would provide a crucial boost for the California Republican’s path to power, according to interviews with over a dozen GOP lawmakers. That’s because Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress — some of whom have voiced increasing skepticism and frustration with McCarthy in recent weeks — still take cues from the former President.

And those lawmakers could end up being decisive votes in a speaker’s race, depending on their party’s margins if the GOP flips the House. The hardline House Freedom Caucus, which has become a club for Trump’s fiercest defenders, is comprised of roughly 40 members.

Trump staying neutral in the contest would also be a boon for McCarthy, who is the clear frontrunner for the top job as he raises piles of cash and stumps for candidates across the country.

On the other hand, if Trump were to publicly or even privately come out against McCarthy — or encourage someone else to challenge him — it would almost certainly create a math problem for McCarthy, who needs 218 votes to clinch the speakership on the floor. Trump’s potential clout in the House GOP leadership elections is a stark contrast from the Senate, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell maintains the steadfast support of his conference despite Trump repeatedly railing against the Kentucky Republican.

“Leader McCarthy is an important partner in President Trump’s effort to win back the House of Representatives with strong Republicans who will fight for his America First agenda,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said in a statement.

“Kevin has his full support. But if he came out against him, it would be ugly,” GOP Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama said.

Like Rogers, many Republicans believe Trump will ultimately stand behind McCarthy if Republicans win back the House next year — or at least stay on the sidelines. McCarthy has been one of Trump’s earliest and staunchest supporters, and having a reliable ally in charge of the House would be a huge benefit for Trump if he decides to run for president in 2024.

“I have zero doubt that Kevin will become the speaker,” said Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, the head of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “And part of that is because he’s maintained a good rapport with President Trump.”

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