Con­ser­va­tives ag­i­tate for change af­ter GOP loses the House

The Maui News - - TODAY’S PEOPLE - By LISA MASCARO and ALAN FRAM The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — As Nancy Pelosi wran­gles votes in her bid for House speaker, an­other lead­er­ship bat­tle is play­ing out on the Repub­li­can side, where Kevin McCarthy faces a chal­lenge from con­ser­va­tive Free­dom Cau­cus co-founder Jim Jor­dan to lead the new GOP mi­nor­ity.

Repub­li­cans lost the House ma­jor­ity in this week’s midterm elec­tions, and con­ser­va­tives are blam­ing the GOP estab­lish­ment and an­gling for changes. McCarthy burned up the phone lines Thurs­day shoring up his sup­port. And down bal­lot, the GOP will add a fa­mil­iar name to the lead­er­ship lineup — Rep. Liz Cheney of Wy­oming, a daugh­ter of for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney who an­nounced her bid for the No. 3 GOP lead­er­ship spot.

But the big­ger bat­tle con­tin­ues to play out on the other side, where Democrats hold a slim ma­jor­ity, now at 225 seats. That leaves Pelosi lit­tle room for er­ror as she rounds up the 218 votes needed to be­come the first woman to re­claim the speaker’s gavel.

Pelosi’s op­po­nents said they were mo­bi­liz­ing Thurs­day and dis­cussing writ­ing a let­ter to show there are enough votes to block her from be­com­ing speaker. Foes have tried to oust Pelosi be­fore. But this time, they say their ef­fort could show some two dozen new and re­turn­ing House Democrats who won’t give her their vote. On the cam­paign trail, sev­eral can­di­dates said they’d op­pose her.

“We have enough,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., one of those who de­scribed the ef­fort.

The group was still de­cid­ing whether to draft the let­ter or state their case in per­son to Pelosi when House Democrats meet pri­vately in the days ahead, he said. “If you add in all the re­cently elected mem­bers who have said they’re not vot­ing for Pelosi in our open­ing salvo, the math isn’t there. She doesn’t have the votes,” Schrader said.

Pelosi’s al­lies quickly swat­ted back the claim as ex­ag­ger­ated. She said this week she’s con­fi­dent she’ll be speaker, and even got a boost from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who said he’d like to work with her. Sev­eral House races re­main un­de­cided, and her hold on the ma­jor­ity could grow if other Democrats are elected.

“Leader Pelosi is con­fi­dent in her sup­port,” said spokesman Drew Ham­mill.

Al­lies point out her op­po­nents ac­tu­ally lost ground Thurs­day in a sep­a­rate ef­fort to chal­lenge her lead­er­ship by re­vis­ing the cau­cus rules for House Democrats.

Con­gress re­turns next week to be­gin sort­ing out new lead­er­ship af­ter eight years of Repub­li­can power. Closed-door ses­sions of vot­ing for lead­er­ship po­si­tions will set the stage for the speaker’s elec­tion in Jan­uary, when the new mem­bers of Con­gress take their first votes.

On the GOP side, McCarthy, the House ma­jor­ity leader who is close to Trump, is fa­vored for the top spot in the mi­nor­ity, but he has strug­gled to shore up sup­port from the GOP’s right flank of law­mak­ers. They have been skep­ti­cal of the Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and ques­tioned his con­ser­va­tive bonafides. Some would pre­fer to elect a street fighter who will con­front Pelosi’s Democrats in the new House ma­jor­ity.

Trump sig­naled he’d be happy with McCarthy, but he’s also pro­moted Jor­dan, the Ohio Repub­li­can, who is a reg­u­lar on Fox News and pop­u­lar with con­ser­va­tive groups be­yond Wash­ing­ton.

On Thurs­day, McCarthy was call­ing col­leagues, pledg­ing to fight Democrats and win back the ma­jor­ity.

To be­come mi­nor­ity leader, McCarthy would need sup­port from half the Repub­li­cans in the House. Their tally now stands at 197, but some races re­main un­de­cided. Jor­dan is ex­pected to pick up sup­port from dozens of mem­bers.

Jor­dan’s bid re­mains a long­shot, but he’s mak­ing in­roads into lead­er­ship for the Free­dom Cau­cus, whose mem­bers want a seat at the ta­ble. His sup­port­ers out­side the Capi­tol are revving up to sup­port him.

“Are you go­ing to elect the same peo­ple who lost the elec­tion, or are you go­ing to elect some­one new?” asked Adam Bran­don, pres­i­dent of the con­ser­va­tive group Free­domWorks, which an­nounced its sup­port Thurs­day for Jor­dan.

If McCarthy and Jor­dan both fall short, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the GOP whip who was se­ri­ously wounded in last year’s shoot­ing at a con­gres­sional base­ball team prac­tice, could swoop in. For now, he’s run­ning to keep his po­si­tion as vote counter.

While Jor­dan, a for­mer col­lege wrestling champ, is seen as the brawler needed, his bid may be com­pli­cated by al­le­ga­tions this sum­mer that, as an as­sis­tant wrestling coach at Ohio State Uni­ver­sity years ago, he did not do enough to counter claims of sex­ual abuse by the team doc­tor, who has since died. Jor­dan has de­nied know­ing of any al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing.

He’s not the only Repub­li­can leader with bag­gage. Scalise has had to dis­tance him­self from an ap­pear­ance in Lou­siana by a group with ties to David Duke, a for­mer leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Scalise has said he was un­aware of the link.

Cheney, mean­while, will run for con­fer­ence chair, now held by Wash­ing­ton GOP Rep. Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, who will not seek an­other lead­er­ship po­si­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.