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 Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has withdrawn from the race.
Breaking: GOP congressman tells me @GOPLeader is postponing speaker election...and took himself out of the race.— Eliana Johnson (@elianayjohnson) October 8, 2015
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.
Paul Ryan: "I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.”— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlakeWP) October 8, 2015
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:
McCarthy statement. pic.twitter.com/CqJD0i6pY9— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) October 8, 2015
A few more reactions from influential members in the House:
Kevin did what he thought was best for the GOP Conference, which surprises no one who knows him.— Trey Gowdy (@TGowdySC) October 8, 2015
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.”