Nate Jackson / October 8, 2015

McCarthy Drops Out, So Now What?

Few want the job of speaker.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy abruptly dropped out of the race for speaker Thursday when it became evident he didn’t have the votes. “I don’t want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes,” said the California Republican, who might not have reached even 220. “I think best think for our party is to win with 247 votes.” That’s the total number of House seats the GOP has, meaning McCarthy valued party unity enough to step aside — perhaps a laudable display of humility that’s so rare in the Swamp. The 40-plus member House Freedom Caucus had just endorsed Daniel Webster (R-FL) for the post, and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) likewise was making a push in the race.

Obama spokesman Josh Earnest gleefully offered to “poke fun at the chaos,” while also insisted that Republicans quell the vocal faction of conservatives “that places their extreme ideology ahead of everything else.” Says the guy whose boss has the most extreme ideology in Washington.

There are rumors that McCarthy was engaged in an extramarital affair, and his dropping out was brought about by a letter from Walter Jones (R-NC) calling on any candidate who has committed “misdeeds” to withdraw. But McCarthy dismissed those rumors and there is little reason at this point to think they are true. That said, he wasn’t up to the job, either, having handed Hillary Clinton a media coup with his boneheaded description of the Benghazi committee.

Now what? The speaker election has been postponed and John Boehner could remain until someone gets to 218 votes. The trouble is, leadership is a thankless job and few seem to want it.

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