Kevin McCarthy moves quickly to secure potential presidency as far-right group weighs long-winded challenge |  CNN Politics

Kevin McCarthy moves quickly to secure potential presidency as far-right group weighs long-winded challenge | CNN Politics


House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy moves quickly to lock in votes to claim the President’s gavel as a far-right faction in his conference discusses whether to mount a long-term challenge to complicate his candidacy and forcing concessions in the process, according to multiple GOP sources.

McCarthy spoke privately to his closest advisers and confidants in a phone call Wednesday morning just hours after his party appeared on track to take the House but fell short of their optimistic expectations of a massive GOP landslide. The California Republican has tapped a group of members to be part of his whipping team that will help him secure the 218 votes to win the presidency in January, with GOP lawmakers vowing to ‘work hard to get him elected “, according to a source familiar with the matter.

But McCarthy’s easy rise to the presidency will be determined in large part by the size of a potential GOP majority. If McCarthy retains a narrow majority, the Pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus could stand in the way of his leadership ambitions. CNN has not yet scheduled a Republican takeover of the chamber.

A source familiar with House Freedom Caucus deliberations told CNN Wednesday morning that there were about two dozen current and incoming members who were prepared to vote against McCarthy if he did not offer them concessions. They are actively discussing setting up a nominal challenger to face McCarthy in next week’s leadership election in a bid to force the GOP leader to give them more influence over the running of the House, a said the source.

McCarthy sent a letter to the conference Wednesday afternoon formally declaring his candidacy for president and asking members for their support, according to a copy obtained by CNN.

Next week’s leadership election is only the first step in the process. McCarthy would need to win a majority of his conference’s support next week to be named speaker before a January vote, when he would need 218 votes from the full House to win the gavel. The hope, the source said, is that if they back a McCarthy challenger in next week’s election, it would force the California Republican to cut a deal in order to gain their support in the January presidential race. when he couldn’t afford to lose more than a handful of GOP votes in a narrow Republican majority.

The Freedom Caucus’ strategy will become clearer by the end of the week as members weigh their options and new lawmakers travel to Washington for initial meetings.

Among their demands: Make it easier for individual members to call a vote to oust an incumbent speaker, an idea McCarthy has long rejected and which has been used against former Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio. The same source said the Freedom Caucus wants greater representation on the panel that selects committee members. They also call on GOP leaders to commit to slowing down the legislative process and giving them more time to consider even uncontroversial bills.

McCarthy’s allies are touting his Tuesday endorsement of former President Donald Trump for the talking hammer, which could help Trump’s staunch supporters at the House GOP conference. Additionally, McCarthy has long sought to develop a good reputation with even the most rebellious forces within the Freedom Caucus and has been in talks with some members of the group about their role in a GOP majority for weeks, according to sources. Republican sources.

Additionally, McCarthy’s allies believe Republicans will credit him with the hundreds of millions of dollars his outside group has raised and spent on key races. McCarthy has been calling victorious GOP candidates and members since Tuesday night.

McCarthy had hoped to win at least 20 seats to give him cushion both in the race for the speaker and to help push his agenda forward. It’s unclear if they can make it happen because many races stay too early for CNN to call.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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