Conservative groups call for new slate of House GOP leaders

Conservative groups call for new slate of House GOP leaders
© Greg Nash

Conservative groups called on Republicans to replace their entire House leadership lineup with fresh faces on Wednesday, a day after the GOP lost control of the lower chamber for the first time in eight years.

With Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIs Joe Biden finished? Krystal Ball previews fifth Democratic debate Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled MORE (R-Wis.) retiring, conservative leaders said they wanted Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns McCarthy blasts Pelosi on USMCA The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Witness dismisses 'fictional' GOP claims of Ukraine meddling MORE (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump attacks Fox News for interviewing Swalwell How House Republicans have stayed unified on impeachment Chris Wallace: Trump testifying 'would be akin to Prince Andrew testifying about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein' MORE (R-La.) and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersThe Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America's suburbs Shimkus announces he will stick with plan to retire after reconsidering Bipartisan group reveals agricultural worker immigration bill MORE (R-Wash.) to step aside and make room for new, more conservative leadership.

The groups endorsed Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDiplomat seen rolling his eyes amid testy impeachment exchange with Jordan Live coverage: Impeachment spotlight shifts to Fiona Hill, David Holmes House GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment MORE (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, over McCarthy for minority leader, the top GOP post in the House next year.

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“If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then a vote for Kevin McCarthy for minority leader is a vote for insanity,” Noah Wall, vice president of advocacy for FreedomWorks, said at a post-election news conference in Washington.

“We need new leadership. We need Jim Jordan to be minority leader. We need to have a breath of fresh air in how Congress is run,” Wall said. “And we need to go retake Congress in 2020 with a new leadership that will have a vision for the future of this country.”

Others grass-roots leaders who joined Wall at the news conference included David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth; Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots; Ken Cuccinelli, head of the Senate Conservatives Fund; and David Bozell, president of For America.

The leaders blamed Ryan and McCarthy’s team for losing the House, saying they had pushed through big spending bills, ignored regular order and failed to deliver on their promise of repealing ObamaCare, even though the House passed a repeal measure. Conservatives also singled out McCarthy for urging candidates to localize their individual races instead of forging stronger ties with President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE and nationalizing their races with hot-button issues like illegal immigration.

“Republicans never win elections unless they are nationalized around conservative issues,” said Richard Viguerie, a longtime conservative figure and chairman of ConservativeHQ.com.

But McCarthy and Scalise, who is running for minority whip, the No. 2 GOP post, are confident they have enough support in the conference to win their respective leadership contests. Republicans will hold closed-door, secret-ballot elections next week, and candidates will need only a simple majority of their colleagues’ support to secure each position.

That shouldn’t be too difficult for McCarthy and Scalise, sometimes seen as friendly rivals, since they have spent much of the past few months stumping and raising money for colleagues around the country.

In a letter to colleagues Wednesday, McCarthy pitched himself as the right person to lead the party back to the majority in 2020. The California Republican co-authored the “Young Guns” playbook that helped the GOP win back the majority in 2010.

“We may have lost this battle, but the struggle for America’s future is just beginning,” McCarthy wrote in his letter. “And the terrain now shifts in our favor, with at least a dozen seats in Trump-carried districts providing opportunities for us to go on offense starting today.”

Both McCarthy and Jordan are seen as close allies of Trump, but in recent weeks the president, his son Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpRNC bought nearly 0,000 worth of copies of Trump Jr.'s new book: report Swalwell on flatulence allegation: Total exoneration Conway and Haley get into heated feud: 'You'll say anything to get the vice-presidential nomination' MORE and Kimberly Guilfoyle, Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, have rallied behind McCarthy.

Scalise, who barely survived a gunman’s bullet last year, is running uncontested for minority whip.

One GOP lawmaker who backs McCarthy and Scalise criticized the outside conservative groups, saying they “don’t know the conference and the personal relationships the members have. Steve Scalise literally shed blood for the conference and McCarthy has worked hard traveling around the country for individual members over the years.”

But the lawmaker said there could be a “legitimate” call for change down the road depending on how McCarthy and Scalise respond to House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs On The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns Wasserman Schultz makes bid for House Appropriations Committee gavel MORE (Calif.), the favorite to take over the Speaker’s office in January.

The race for the No. 3 GOP spot could pit Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran Cruz, Graham and Cheney call on Trump to end all nuclear waivers for Iran Pompeo: US ending sanctions waiver for site where Iran resumed uranium enrichment MORE (R-Wyo.), the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who won her father’s old congressional seat just two years ago, against McMorris Rodgers, the
conference chairwoman for the past six years.

Cheney appears to have backing from Scalise and his top ally, Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryOn The Money: House passes monthlong stopgap | Broader spending talks stall | Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns | Progressives ramp up attacks on private equity Progressive Democrats ramp up attacks on private equity House passes Ex-Im Bank reboot bill opposed by White House, McConnell MORE (R-N.C.), which would put her in prime position to mount a strong challenge to McMorris Rodgers. She has not yet indicated to colleagues that she is running for another term in leadership.

Lower down the ladder, Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerNorth Carolina poised to pass new congressional maps Intercollegiate athletics just got a two-minute warning North Carolina ruling could cost GOP House seats MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said Wednesday he will run to succeed Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsHow House Republicans have stayed unified on impeachment Hundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia The Hill's Morning Report - Wild Wednesday: Sondland testimony, Dem debate take center stage MORE (R-Ga.) as vice chairman of the GOP conference. Collins is angling to become the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

After a disappointing Election Day, Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversWaters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing plans Financial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more GOP ratchets up 2020 attacks as impeachment storm grows MORE (R-Ohio) told colleagues on Wednesday he will not run for a second term leading the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House GOP’s campaign arm.

Three of Stivers’s top deputies — Reps. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerGeorge Papadopoulos launches campaign to run for Katie Hill's congressional seat Shimkus says he's been asked to reconsider retirement Walden retirement adds to GOP election woes MORE (R-Minn.), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerThe Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America's suburbs Bottom Line On The Money: Tax, loan documents for Trump properties reportedly showed inconsistencies | Tensions flare as Dems hammer Trump consumer chief | Critics pounce as Facebook crypto project stumbles MORE (R-Mo.) and Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) — are vying to replace Stivers as NRCC chairman.

While Jordan will find it tough to best McCarthy in the minority leader race, McIntosh, the Club for Growth president and a former Indiana congressman, said he could endorse a compromise coalition that includes Freedom Caucus and GOP establishment leaders. One dream team, he said, could include Jordan, Scalise and Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHouse GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment Michelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Sondland testimony looms over impeachment hearings this week MORE (R-N.C.).

“A Jordan-Meadows coalition with the mainstream is the strongest solution,” McIntosh told The Hill.

Contenders for House GOP Leadership

Minority Leader
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)

Minority Whip
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

GOP Conference Chair
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)

GOP Conference Vice Chair
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.)

NRCC Chair
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.)
Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.)
Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.)

Policy Chair
Rep. Gary PalmerGary James PalmerTrump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race GOP protest overshadows impeachment hearing Republicans storm closed-door hearing to protest impeachment inquiry MORE (R-Ala.)