House

McCarthy says if he doesn’t win Speakership, it’s ‘not God’s plan’

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expressing extreme confidence in his chances of becoming Speaker next year if Republicans win control of the House in the midterm elections, suggesting that divine intervention is the only thing that can keep him from the gavel. 

McCarthy said in an interview with Punchbowl News published Monday that he believes he can win the votes of the House Republican Conference no matter how large a GOP majority is, that the prospect of losing does not keep him up at night, and that if he doesn’t win, it wasn’t in “God’s plan.”

“I think I can win with any seat majority,” McCarthy said. “If I’m even up for Speaker, that means we won seats. I’ve been [the top House Republican for] two cycles. I’ve never lost seats, I’ve only won.”

Republican insiders privately muse that McCarthy could have a harder time winning a Speakership vote if Republicans gain only a slim majority.

The GOP leader predicted last year that his party could flip as many as 60 seats, but Republicans have since publicly tempered expectations. It is typical for at least a handful of members to vote against their party’s ultimate pick for Speaker.

But McCarthy has not faced any serious internal challenge to his Speakership ambitions, based in part on his embrace of the confrontational right wing of the House Republican Conference that previously clashed with former GOP Speakers John Boehner (Ohio) and Paul Ryan (Wis.) before they left Congress.

“If I’m not going to be acceptable to the body having that scenario this time, no one’s acceptable,” McCarthy said. “I don’t worry about it at night. I don’t worry about the attacks. I’m sure the attacks will come, they want to demonize.”

McCarthy said that if he does not win the Speakership next year, it is “not God’s plan for me to be speaker.”

The GOP leader also told Punchbowl that he would like at least a 10-seat majority, which would mean gaining at least 15 seats, in order to account for various issues like unexpected deaths in the House.

He said it would be “a little hard” to win the Speakership for a second time in 2025 if Republicans hold on to the House but their majority shrinks.

“When you study Speakers who take it from the minority to the majority, they’re not long-lasting Speakers,” McCarthy said. “What happens in it, you become a household name. And you just take all these arrows. So you’re the guy running up the hill with the flag, it’s always the person behind you that wants to pick it up after you’ve been shot. They never had to go through the war, they just get to hold onto the flag.”

Tags 2022 midterms House Republicans Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy
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