Biggs debuted his challenge against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) during an appearance in the evening on Newsmax, potentially torpedoing the California representative’s long-running endeavor to ascend to the speakership.
“It’s a new paradigm here, and I think the country wants a different direction from the House of Representatives, and it’s a new world, and yes, I’m going to be nominated tomorrow to the position of speaker of the House,” he said. “It’s going to be tough. I mean, Kevin has raised a lot of money.”
Some conservative hardliners had floated nominating the Arizona representative in a show of defiance against McCarthy amid frustrations over the failure to postpone the leadership vote Tuesday, per Politico. McCarthy’s previous attempt for the gavel had reportedly been tanked by allies of the conservative Freedom Caucus back in 2015.
Although he has enjoyed support from former President Donald Trump, McCarthy is staring down a slimmer-than-expected projected House majority following a surprise midterm setback, which has emboldened the far-right flank of his party.
If the leadership vote on Tuesday goes through, Republicans will nominate a candidate for House speaker. Next year’s newly sworn-in Congress will then hold a full-member vote for the post, and McCarthy would need to claim at least 218 votes during the floor vote.
Bigg’s bid could siphon off critical votes needed for that threshold, particularly given the likely razor-thin majority Republicans are projected to attain in the lower chamber. He has previously lodged criticism against McCarthy’s leadership and nudged his party to reconsider his perch as the party’s No. 1 House Republican.
“I think we need to have a real discussion about whether he should be the speaker or not,” Biggs told reporters on Thursday.
“I think we need to have a very positive statement of what we’re going to accomplish and do, and I haven’t seen that yet,” he added. “Those are things that I think we should have a very frank discussion internally about — where we’re going to be going forward.”
A contingent of Democrats has reportedly signaled openness to striking a deal with McCarthy to get him over the finish line in exchange for concessions.