In a closed-door meeting of House Republicans on Wednesday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy was elected as the House minority leader. Once the speaker Paul Ryan leaves Capitol Hill in January after completing his term, McCarthy will be in a position to lead House GOP members.
The California Republican was longshot challenged by Rep. Jim Jordan from Ohio, who is the co-founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus. McCarthy won by 159-43 among House Republicans.
Kevin McCarthy is the current No. 2 House Republican, longtime favorite in the race of becoming minority leader in the new Congress – the highest ranked post in the GOP leadership after Republicans losing control of the House of Representatives in the recent midterm elections.
Ryan’s retirement is around the corner. In April, Ryan endorsed Kevin McCarthy as his successor after announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election.
The current No. 3 House Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was elected to the No. 2 Republican leadership position to serve as minority whip. Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, Liz Cheney was elected to the No. 3 position in the GOP to serve as the next Republican conference chair.
During a news conference on Wednesday, McCarthy made a compelling statement of opposing the Democrats if they target President Donald Trump.
“We will work with anybody across that aisle if they are there to work to move America forward. But let me be very clear, if their agenda is simply investigations, impeachment, and not focused on the hardworking American public, we will be there to defend the American public,” McCarthy said.
While racing for minority leadership, Kevin McCarthy placed himself as one of the closest allies of Trump. He wrote in a letter announcing his bid, “We need to lay the groundwork to regain the majority so that we can continue working alongside President Trump to fulfill our promise to fundamentally change Washington. I helped build a majority from a deeper hole than this and I have what it takes to do it again.”
At the news conference, McCarthy also said that Trump is not to be blamed for House Republicans losing their majority. “History is against us. Any President in their first off-year election, on average, loses more than 30 seats,” he said.
He further added, “We took a beating inside the suburban areas. We’re going to have to work harder. I think our message is going to have to be clearer. Our ideas are going to have to be stronger. We realize that, and we will work toward that effort.”