Kevin McCarthy’s abrupt withdrawal from the Speaker of the House campaign shocked much of the GOP Establishment and sent its donors, lobbyists and media supporters into a tailspin on Thursday.
“The RINOs and their media surrogates are in full panic,” said Mark Levin, Editor-in-Chief of Conservative Review.com. “Laughable. The sky isn’t falling. Their power and agenda are being challenged. Kevin McCarthy was unfit to be speaker on many levels. Perhaps the process will deliver the people a decent leader. Conservatives should be open to looking outside the House for the next speaker as well. Thanks to the Freedom Caucus for fighting!”
Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp told Levin’s radio show that McCarthy basically told the caucus: “I’m not the one.” Sounds like Neo from “The Matrix” denying his future, but what made McCarthy re-think a gift-wrapped opportunity such as this?
A strange sequence of events evolved during the course of the week.
First, McCarthy could not muster enough votes. It’s been reported he had only 178 and wanted to avoid embarrassment.
But then rumors of an affair with North Carolina Representative Renee Ellmers began to surface. Several bizarre emails worked in conjunction with the rumors and McCarthy may have simply wanted to avoid a massive scandal.
Oddly, a fellow North Carolina Representative — Walter Jones — circulated an email to the GOP caucus on Wednesday saying: “Any candidate for speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican conference, and the House of Representatives if they become public.”
— bennydiego (@bennydiego) October 9, 2015
The Huffington Post reports how McCarthy received a personal email from Stephen Baer, a Chicago-based GOP donor at 8 am on Thursday with the subject line: “Kevin, why not resign like Bob Livingston?”
Baer referenced Livingston who was set to take the gavel from Newt Gingrich in the late 1990’s. However, thanks to a campaign by porn magnate Larry Flynt to collect dirty laundry on GOP congressional members, Livingston admitted an affair and retired (The Washington Examiner recalls the incident here). RedState.com reported how an outsider — perhaps Baer — emailed various links regarding the alleged McCarthy-Ellmers affair to 91 Representatives.
“A few days ago, he emailed out to 91 people, including these members of Congress, an email with a series of links to stories alleging a relationship between Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina. It is worth noting that the two deny a relationship. But the email began circulating pretty heavily. Conservatives were buzzing about it. The first line pointed to the current scandal about Denny Hastert and concluded suggesting that if the rumor about McCarthy and his personal life were true, he was a national security risk.”— RedState.com
McCarthy has not indicated his future career intentions. Huelskamp said he wasn’t sure if McCarthy would remain House Majority Leader.
As for Ellmers — whether the rumors are true or not — this episode will damage her reputation as she fights off a primary challenge. Ellmers enraged her base by blowing up a prime Right-to-Life Bill early in 2015. Her primary opponent, former Chatham County GOP chairman Jim Duncan, has out-performed Ellmers in the fund raising department — an ominous sign.
Ellmers thanks lawmakers for ‘prayers’ amid affair rumors http://t.co/iu8HjFSHL1
— Nick Gass (@NickGass) October 9, 2015
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) October 9, 2015