Kevin McCarthy Withdraws from Speaker Race

Posted: Oct 08, 2015 12:23 PM
Kevin McCarthy Withdraws from Speaker Race

This post has been updated.

Capitol Hill was shocked Thursday morning with news that the perceived frontrunner for Speaker of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has withdrawn from the race.

The only possible explanation for his exit is his disastrous comments about the Benghazi select committee. They were so damaging, that the Clinton campaign used the sound bite in a campaign ad and a prominent conservative group announced they were supporting his opponent, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL). The chairman of the Benghazi committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy (S-SC), did his best to defend the work he and his colleagues have done on the bipartisan panel. 

In a press conference Thursday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said McCarthy will be staying on as Majority Leader and his endorsement will be "most important" for the candidates running. John Boehner will remain in his role as Speaker until a replacement is found.

Along with Webster, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is also still in the running to replace Boehner as speaker. Despite multiple calls to run, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said he will not be entering his name.

McCarthy had over 200 votes secured for the Oct. 29 vote, which has now been pushed to a later date. This race is suddenly blown wide open.

McCarthy spoke to the press Thursday afternoon and ensured them that his initial comments about the Benghazi committee were wrong. He said the committee was only created to find answers for the families of our murdered ambassadors and he said he doesn't want to be a "distraction" from the select committee's efforts.

Here is McCarthy's official statement regarding his decision:

A few more reactions from influential members in the House:

Chaffetz, speaking on the hill, was "stunned" by the decision. The GOP has a lot of "internal fractures," he said, and they need to find some unity. 

As for current House Speaker Boehner, he is "confident" his successor will be named soon:

“After Leader McCarthy’s announcement, members of the House Republican Conference will not vote today for a new Speaker. As I have said previously, I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker. We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks. Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities.”