House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday formally launched his bid to succeed John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE (R-Ohio) as Speaker, saying he would work to heal divisions in the fractious GOP conference.
“We can’t ignore the differences that exist, but we can and must heal the divisions in our conference with work, time, and trust,” McCarthy wrote in an email to House Republicans. “That is why I have decided to run for Speaker of the House and graciously ask for your support.”
The amiable McCarthy has only served in the House since 2007, but quickly established relationships among House Republicans early on by recruiting many winning candidates for the 2010 midterms, when the GOP won back the House majority.
He leaned into those relationships in his email to lawmakers, asking for their support.
“You all know me. We’ve spent late nights on the House floor together. I’ve visited your districts and met your families and constituents. More importantly, I have gotten to know your ideas, your goals, and your vision for our conference and our country,” McCarthy wrote in the email.
“If elected Speaker, I promise you that we will have the courage to lead the fight for our conservative principles and make our case to the American people. But we will also have the wisdom to listen to our constituents and each other so that we always move forward together,” he continued.
McCarthy has served as chief deputy whip and majority whip. He won his current job after then-Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorTrump nominates two new DOD officials Brat: New ObamaCare repeal bill has 'significant' changes Overnight Energy: Flint lawmaker pushes EPA for new lead rule MORE (R-Va.) lost his June 2014 primary election.
McCarthy was widely expected to run for Speaker. The Hill reported earlier this month that conservatives in the House were warming to him, and had openly discussed a future leadership team with McCarthy as Speaker and other conservatives in positions beneath him.
So far only one other candidate, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) has emerged to challenge McCarthy as Speaker.
Webster would be a prohibitive underdog. He only won 12 votes — including from himself — upon launching a long-shot bid against Boehner for Speaker in January.
Several candidates have already launched bids for lower-ranking leadership positions on the assumption that McCarthy would seek the Speakership.
At least four Republicans are angling for majority leader: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersCongress should support McMorris Rodgers' proposal to limit federal spending Study: Rhode Island, Delaware have fastest internet in country At the table: The importance of advocating for ABLE MORE (Wash.), House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) and Rep. Peter Roskam (Ill.).
Others are already positioning themselves for majority whip should Scalise ascend to the majority leader post: Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (N.C.), Deputy Whip Dennis Ross (Fla.) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (Okla.).
The date for the leadership elections has not yet been announced. House Republicans will gather Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. in the Capitol basement to discuss their options.
Despite being considered the front-runner, McCarthy faces a tall task in securing the 218 votes necessary to become Speaker. He's expected to meet in the coming days with factions of the GOP conference such as the House Freedom Caucus, which has about 40 members.
That group’s members pressured Boehner out of the Speakership in the first place and they have not yet said who it will back for any leadership post.