Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Kevin McCarthy Elected Majority Leader (Video)

McCarthy was elected by his Republican colleagues to be the next House majority leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McCarthy was elected by his Republican colleagues to be the next House majority leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:32 p.m. | Republican members of the House elected Kevin McCarthy to be the next majority leader, sending a message of stability to their party in a time of unexpected unrest.

Behind the closed doors of the Ways and Means Committee room, in a secret ballot vote, the California Republican cemented the massive voting bloc he’s held from the earliest moments of the race. McCarthy, who was the majority whip, toppled conservative challenger Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho. Labrador had mounted a concerted media campaign.

The House doesn’t formally announce the tally, though it could leak.
Labrador’s campaign looked to capitalize on general frustration with leadership, as well as the message Virginia voters sent to the House after Majority Leader Eric Cantor suffered a stunning primary defeat on June 10.

In the end, Republicans chose the safe and expected candidate, elevating the No. 3 Republican to the No. 2 spot. Next up is choosing a new whip to replace McCarthy.

After Cantor announced last week his intention to step down from his leadership position on July 31, House Republicans were sent into an intense scramble to replace one of the more popular members of GOP leadership within the conference.

McCarthy’s campaign relied heavily on private conversations with members, mostly over the phone. McCarthy didn’t conduct a single media interview or even formally announce his candidacy in a release or “Dear Colleague” letter, a credit, perhaps, to the personal relationships he’s forged with members over the past three and a half years as whip. (He did, however, stop by the Congressional Women’s Softball Game Wednesday night to show his support for the lawmakers’ team, which won 10-5.)

McCarthy has been in Congress for just seven years, a historically short period of time for someone to become majority leader.

Once he takes the job, there are, according to the official House calendar, just 12 scheduled legislative days until the fall midterm elections, after which conservatives could mount a more serious challenge to leadership in general.

Labrador insisted until the last minute that he could — indeed, would — pull off a massive upset victory.

His strategy was dependent upon members using the secrecy of the ballot to turn their backs on McCarthy and send a message of discontent, but that didn’t materialize.

Instead, House Republicans sent a message of tacit endorsement of leadership’s direction, though McCarthy did seem to pick up many of the platforms Labrador was pushing.

During a candidate forum Wednesday morning, McCarthy made a pitch meant to address many of the frustrations Labrador was counting on to win.

“He really, I thought, just kind of adopted Raúl Labrador’s platform of, you know, making the committees more relevant, making the members more relevant, and relying a lot less on staff to make the decisions, and letting members actually, who are duly elected, take the role of calling the shots and moving legislation, instead of the unelected people who control this place,” Arizona Republican Matt Salmon said.

Salmon, one of Labrador’s firmest supporters, said “even if the status quo happens and we keep the same old tired folks in place, I feel like the message has been lodged loud and clear: Business as usual is not acceptable.”

This post has been updated to reflect the number of legislative days before the next leadership elections.


Related stories:

Sprint to Power: 10 Days Inside the GOP Leadership Race

Would-Be Whips Woo Conservatives, Reassure Moderates 

2010 Class Plots Comeback Strategy in Late-Night Meeting

Labrador Appeals Directly to Colleagues for Support in Majority Leader Race 

Roskam-Scalise Whip Race Heats Up, Gets Ugly

Stutzman Enters Whip Race, Complicating Scalise Chances

FreedomWorks Wants Labrador for Majority Leader

Is Boehner’s Gavel on the Line?

Stunner: Cantor Loss Changes Everything

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  • Yonatan YONATAN

    While we can send our sons and our daughters into war, and give billions of dollars in foreign aid, to some countries that actually hate us, we STILL can’t pass the unemployment extension bill for the tree million unemployed families who are STILL without benefits and the means to support heir children. We can send our sons and daughters to fight for other people’s freedom, but not support their families back here at home. The republicans and democrats have both FAILED these three million unemployed Americans miserably. Senators like John Boehner have shown a total lack of compassion and common decency towards these people. The president and his party has allowed this behavior to go unchallenged without a fight. Both party’s have walked away and left these families continue to fall into financial ruin. This country no longer takes care of it’s own. We don’t even take care of our veterans. It’s truly appalling..

  • Layla

    Boehner demonstrates more of the same, while Hispanics in California are still facing the threat of death by cop, most especially in Kern County and the Kern County Sheriff’s Deputies. 6 men dead and NOT ONE federal investigation. Oh, and did I mention that the Sheriff is the coroner? In the case of 3 of these guys (in their 30’s), death was ruled “bad heart”.

    You’d have a bad heart too, if 5-6 250 lb. men were hitting you with their batons while you lay on the ground, begging for your life.

    And what did Kevin do when approached by these families for an investigation? NOTHING.

    Disgusting day for the Republicans. Another crook elected to the leadership.

    • daddyoyo

      Kern Kounty Kalifornia. The most backward part of the state. Alabama west.

  • daddyoyo

    Hey tea baggers. You threw Cantor under the bus and they replaced him as leader with a Rino. Bwahahahahahaha. Suckers.

  • Ized Fohssil

    While liberty provides principles that guide us toward what the law should be, democratic methods can help determine what the law will be.

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