Representative Kevin McCarthy shocked the political world when he announced last Thursday that he was dropping his bid to be the next Speaker of the House. We soon found out why, far-right activists were circulating an email that suggested that Rep. McCarthy was having an affair with fellow GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, both deny the accusation but it highlights a bigger problem, the GOP can’t continue to be held hostage from the extremist in the House Freedom Caucus. This is a problem not exclusive to John Boehner, the next Speaker will face the same conservative backlash once he does something they don’t care for. Paul Ryan is not the savior of the House Republican caucus, he is liked by the Republican establishment and will never gain the acceptance of the House Freedom Caucus long enough to enact any major legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a top target for conservatives now that Boehner is resigning, has came out in favor of Paul Ryan. Bloomberg reports that Senator McConnell told Ryan “that he sees no other alternative for the speaker job, and has painted a somewhat apocalyptic short-term future if Ryan won’t accede,” His endorsement does little to calm the fears of the far-right and the GOP voters who right now crave an outsider who will rule with a conservative iron fist and act like Democrats don’t exist in the House.
The Hill reports that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the founder of the House Freedom Caucus, says his group is not sold on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for Speaker. Said Jordan, ““Well, look, Paul Ryan is a friend, I meet with him every single week, we talk about policy, I think he’s be a great messenger. He’ll come in front of our group and talk to us, I think our group would be favorable towards him, but we’re not there yet.” His caucus has roughly 50 members in it. Jordan said the House Freedom Caucus would back Ryan if he committed to decentralizing power in the House.
This is a problem the GOP needs solved right away and avoid more infighting since the 2016 election draws closer with each day. Paul Ryan is simply a band-aid, the far-right won’t be happy with Paul Ryan as Speaker and that is why Ryan turned down the job the first time around. It is a losing battle in a party that continues to grow more extreme and the nominee of the Republican Party for president will likely make matters worse for the next Speaker as he tries to fire-up a GOP base that is already very upset with the Washington establishment.