Report: Jason Chaffetz reportedly planning to challenge Kevin McCarthy for Speaker

What a silly idea, electing a man Speaker who’s just 48 years old and has been in the House for a mere six years. What we need is an experienced hand like Kevin McCarthy, who’s 50 years old and has been in the House for eight years.

Politico calls Chaffetz’s bid a longshot. Is it?

The CW this week is that McCarthy’s Benghazi gaffe was a gift to Hillary Clinton but it’s also a gift to House conservatives who are looking for a foothold in electing Boehner’s successor. You won’t convince the centrists in the caucus that McCarthy’s too squishy to rule but you might convince them that he’s a political liability whom the GOP can’t risk having as a major spokesman during next year’s death match with the Clintons. All tea partiers need to mount a challenge is a candidate. Hensarling won’t do it, Jordan won’t do it, Ryan won’t do it. Jason Chaffetz? He’ll do it, allegedly.

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz is planning to run for House speaker, taking on Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in what appears to be a long-shot bid to lead House Republicans, according to multiple sources…

The last-minute move by the fourth-term lawmaker underscores frustration among some members of the Republican Conference with the current choices to lead the conference after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) leaves at the end of the month…

Chaffetz’s planned run comes just a few hours after he called on McCarthy to apologize for his remarks this week that the Benghazi panel’s work has hurt 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the polls. Those remarks were seen as bolstering Democrats’ long-running argument that the committee has as much to do with politics as it does investigating the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks.

This feels more like the token opposition that Raul Labrador kinda sorta presented to McCarthy last year in the race for majority leader than a real attempt to steal the throne. Chaffetz is generally well liked on the right but I don’t see him galvanizing the sort of excitement among conservative opinion-makers (as, say, Hensarling or Jordan would) that might make the House caucus pay attention. Mark Levin called him a “sanctimonious fraud” a few months ago after Chaffetz kicked Mark Meadows off a subcommittee for crossing Boehner on fast-track TPP authority for Obama. Chaffetz and his Oversight Committee were also panned by some righties this week for their dismal Planned Parenthood hearings, which involved plenty of speech-making and financial minutiae and not as much inquiry into, say, human vivisection. Chaffetz’s challenge is, I assume, more a way for him and House conservatives to say that they nominally resisted McCarthy taking the gavel than it is a serious attempt to stop him.

Exit question via Rich Lowry: What happens if McCarthy can only manage, say, 215 votes? He’d still have a vast majority of the GOP caucus in his pocket but not quite enough to ensure his election as Speaker. Will a few House conservatives fold in that case in order to avoid chaos in the Speaker race or will the centrists dump McCarthy and start looking for a consensus candidate?

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David Strom 3:31 PM on February 02, 2023