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 RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.) retiring, conservative leaders said they wanted Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Buzz grows Rep. Amash will challenge Trump as a Libertarian MORE (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Trump hits Amash after congressman doubles down on impeachment talk Trump encouraged Scalise to run for governor in Louisiana: report MORE (R-La.) and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersThe GOP's commitment to electing talented women can help party retake the House McCain and Dingell: Inspiring a stronger Congress Regulators implore Congress for more privacy powers MORE (R-Wash.) to step aside and make room for new, more conservative leadership.

The groups endorsed Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHouse Freedom Caucus votes to condemn Amash's impeachment comments Amash storm hits Capitol Hill Ohio governor calls to eliminate statute of limitations for sex crimes after OSU doctor abuse report 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 TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure 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 TrumpCohen says Trump attorney told him to say Trump Tower talks ended earlier than they did Cohen told lawmakers that Trump lawyer Sekulow instructed him to lie about Moscow tower project: report Ukraine's top prosecutor says no evidence of wrongdoing by Bidens 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure 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 CheneyAmash storm hits Capitol Hill The GOP's commitment to electing talented women can help party retake the House GOP launches anti-BDS discharge petition 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 McHenryExport-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Top Financial Services Republican presses regulators on Dodd-Frank rollbacks Dems digging into Trump finances post-Mueller 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 WalkerNCAA to consider allowing student athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Colorado state senators plan to introduce bill to let NCAA athletes get paid MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said Wednesday he will run to succeed Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsProsecutor appointed by Barr poised to enter Washington firestorm The CASE Act is an opportunity for creators to have rights and remedies GOP lawmaker: Mueller should 'come to Congress' 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 StiversThirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill House bill seeks to bolster security for synagogues, mosques in wake of attacks Congress can open financial institutions to legal cannabis industry with SAFE Banking Act 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 EmmerRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP McCarthy holds courtesy meeting with ex-Rep. Grimm Progressive demands put new pressures on Democrats MORE (R-Minn.), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerRepublicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave Top GOP lawmaker moves to force floor vote on abortion bill This week: Senate GOP prepares to change rules on Trump nominees 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 MeadowsAmash storm hits Capitol Hill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - After GOP infighting, Trump Jr. agrees to testify again On The Money: House chairman issues subpoenas for Trump's tax returns | Trump touts trade talks as China, US fail to reach deal | Five things to know about Trump's trade war with China | GOP offers support for Trump on tariffs 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 PalmerPoll: Roy Moore leading Alabama GOP field Overnight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA Six Republicans named to House climate panel MORE (R-Ala.)