Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a conservative firebrand and close ally to former President Donald Trump, has been making calls to members advocating that lawmakers vote against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to be the next speaker of the House in the wake of the GOP’s underperformance in the midterm election cycle, two sources familiar with the conversation told the Washington Examiner.
Gaetz, who has had a turbulent relationship with the California Republican, previously voiced that he would like to see a conservative like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who previously challenged McCarthy for the top Republican spot last cycle, seek the position. McCarthy is currently running uncontested for the job, and Trump endorsed his bid on Tuesday.
The Florida Republican would not directly confirm that he is calling for McCarthy’s ouster from leadership but stated that he is having discussions with his colleagues about what he thinks the future of leadership will look like.
“Just as I have done after every election, you can count on me having conversations with my colleagues on matters of policy, politics, and leadership,” he said in a statement.
McCarthy held a call, along with some of his closest allies, with a group of members of his conference on Wednesday morning to shore up support, telling lawmakers that they are just looking “at early totals” in certain states out West and noting that they are poised to take back the majority for just the third time since 1954.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the California Republican gave a short and delayed speech that lasted less than four minutes, taking the stage around 2 a.m. with Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Tom Emmer (R-MN) to tout GOP gains before exiting without taking questions from reporters.
In the days leading up to the election, top Republicans in the House voiced on social media and on cable news that they expected a red wave on Election Day, which ultimately did not come to fruition.
Multiple members and senior aides told the Washington Examiner they believe McCarthy is likely to secure the gavel but noted he will face difficulties governing with a tight majority and will likely have to make concessions in the rules package to secure the votes.
House Republicans are scheduled to hold their closed-door leadership elections next week, with a floor vote for speaker slated to happen in early January.