Cortez Masto Reelected Nevada Senator, Winning Key Seat for Democrats2 min read
But a few months before the November elections, some congressional Republicans are privately unsure if McCarthy even has the votes to become speaker. There’s almost always some last-minute alternative candidate who emerges in defiance of the front-runner. It’s likely a long shot will throw his or her hat in the ring, but congressional Republicans interviewed for this article also suggested that a more serious candidate like House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, McCarthy’s longtime deputy and occasional rival, would make a play for the speakership. Others have mentioned House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, who has spent the past year burnishing her credentials with the MAGA crowd.
Some House Republicans have dismissed reporters’ questions about leadership as inside baseball, but even a sidestep can be telling. “I think we have a clear objective here as a conference: Go win seats and go create a majority to go stand up against Biden. And we need to have a conversation about what that’s going to look like, and then we’ll figure out our leadership structure,” said Representative Chip Roy of Texas. “Kevin’s a friend. I have a lot of friends in the conference. Let’s just keep marching forward and win in November.”
So far, Steve Scalise, who was thought to be the likeliest to challenge for the speakership, has publicly maintained his support for McCarthy, even as he prepares to launch a bid to become the majority leader in the House. Stefanik, meanwhile, rather pointedly endorsed former President Donald Trump on Friday. Her support, at a time when so many have plumped for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to seize the mantle, may serve her in good stead should Trump withdraw his own (tenuous) support for McCarthy.
Finally, if you need further indication that the red wave’s failure to materialize is going to be roiling Republicans on Capitol Hill, it appears that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is in a spot of bother as well: Florida Senator Marco Rubio took to Twitter on Friday to call for postponing the Senate leadership vote next week. (And yes, we took the time to be extra sure that this was, in fact, the real Marco Rubio, and not one of Elon Musk’s newly-minted bluecheck impersonators. What a world!)