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 RyanCalif. congresswoman-elect bumps into Pelosi at airport How this year’s freshmen can save the Congress — and themselves Democrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters MORE (R-Wis.) retiring, conservative leaders said they wanted Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump heads to California to meet first responders amid deadly wildfires Hillicon Valley: Russian-linked hackers may have impersonated US officials | Trump signs DHS cyber bill | Prosecutors inadvertently reveal charges against Assange | Accenture workers protest border enforcement work | App mines crypto for bail bonds McCarthy, other Republicans back Ratcliffe to be next attorney general MORE (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseMcCarthy, other Republicans back Ratcliffe to be next attorney general Rep. Mike Johnson wins race for RSC chairman Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP MORE (R-La.) and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — House, Senate leaders named as Pelosi lobbies for support to be Speaker Liz Cheney wins House GOP leadership post McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote MORE (R-Wash.) to step aside and make room for new, more conservative leadership.

The groups endorsed Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanRep. Mike Johnson wins race for RSC chairman Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP Heads up, GOP: Elections have consequences 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 TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks 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 TrumpTrump Jr.'s India trip cost taxpayers nearly 0K: report Social media explodes over Avenatti arrest Mueller targets Stone in final push 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 PelosiJohn Lewis joins Ocasio-Cortez on climate change push Dem House newcomers split on supporting Pelosi for Speaker Reelection campaign starts now, like it or not 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 CheneyElection Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Trump sanctions 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing | Insurgents seek female challenger to Pelosi for Speakership | Broward County finishes machine recount The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — House, Senate leaders named as Pelosi lobbies for support to be Speaker 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 McHenryHouse Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping On The Money: Dems mark Trump tax returns as key part of agenda | Waters defends planned probe of Trump finances after GOP backlash | Reports: Trump mulls replacing Commerce chief Ross by end of year Waters defends planned probe of Trump finances after GOP backlash 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 WalkerDems seek to overhaul voting rules in Florida legal fight  Election Countdown: Abrams ends fight in Georgia governor's race | Latest on Florida recount | Booker, Harris head to campaign in Mississippi Senate runoff | Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority McCarthy, other Republicans back Ratcliffe to be next attorney general MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said Wednesday he will run to succeed Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsHeads up, GOP: Elections have consequences Gaetz goes to bat with Trump on Jordan House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping 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 StiversDemocrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses Conservative magazine posts recording of King using derogatory language against immigrants 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 EmmerMcCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Conservative groups call for new slate of House GOP leaders MORE (R-Minn.), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerMidterm results shake up national map House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Conservative groups call for new slate of House GOP leaders 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 MeadowsPence aide defends Meadows after ethics panel reprimand: He ‘had my back’ Ethics panel reprimands Freedom Caucus chairman over handling of harassment allegations McCarthy, other Republicans back Ratcliffe to be next attorney general 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 PalmerMcCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Conservative groups call for new slate of House GOP leaders MORE (R-Ala.)