The doubts haunted Kevin McCarthy.
Publicly, he projected an air of confidence, the appearance of the man who would be the next speaker of the House. But in private, his allies told him the pursuit for power was changing him and he wasn’t himself. Some said that even if he won, he couldn’t govern.
“We need somebody to get us 247,” McCarthy said in an extensive interview with POLITICO Thursday, referring to the total number of House Republicans. “And I was never going to be able to get 247.”
The majority leader’s longtime allies — the people he recruited and helped get elected to Congress — told him they were getting hammered back home, and that it would be difficult to back him on the House floor.
Other friends said McCarthy’s pursuit of the speaker’s gavel had become a staggering weight on his shoulders and was already starting to change him.
Conservatives — namely members of the House Freedom Caucus — were making demands he believed he simply couldn’t deliver on.
The job of Speaker of the House is the second most powerful in the United States, after the President. They basically solely decide what bills and issues get voted on in the House. In the absence of a President, they are the de facto leader of their party.
Yet the Republican civil war has made the job an awful one. Some Republican representatives have demands so unreasonable, that no Speaker can meet them, and hence no Speaker can govern – unless they rely on Democrats.
So we have not only seen Boehner resign as Speaker, but his No 2 drop out of the race to replace him.
The Republicans have the House and Senate, and Clinton is looking beatable if she is the Democratic nominee. If they had unity, they could win the presidency next year, but if they don’t they will lose, and possibly lose the Senate also. That would be bad as a further Democratic administration could see major changes in the Supreme Court, which would give the liberal wing a majority.