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 RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas MORE (R-Wis.) retiring, conservative leaders said they wanted Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyAmerica's newest comedy troupe: House GOP Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices Modernize Congress to make it work for the people MORE (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseScalise blasts Democratic legislation on gun reforms Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran On The Money: Senate panel scraps vote on key spending bill amid standoff | Democrats threaten to vote against defense bill over wall funding | Trump set to meet with aides about reducing capital gains taxes MORE (R-La.) and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersSocial determinants of health — health care isn't just bugs and bacteria Lawmakers deride FTC settlement as weak on Facebook Overnight Energy: Fight over fuel standards intensifies | Democrats grill Trump officials over rule rollback | California official blasts EPA chief over broken talks | Former EPA official says Wheeler lied to Congress MORE (R-Wash.) to step aside and make room for new, more conservative leadership.

The groups endorsed Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDemocrat accuses GOP of opposing DC statehood because of 'race and partisanship' The Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' Trump slams Democrats as 'shameful' after Lewandowski hearing 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 TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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 TrumpDemocrats introduce bill to block taxpayer-funded spending at Trump properties Trump dismisses NYT explanation on Kavanaugh correction The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico 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 PelosiPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan 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: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran Liz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump 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 McHenryManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Hasan Minhaj tells Congress: Student loan debt is 'sidelining millions of Americans' Hillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections 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 WalkerTo boost minority serving institutions, bipartisan Future Act needs immediate action Pressure rises on Cheney to make decision NCAA urges California governor not to sign 'fair pay' bill for college athletes MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said Wednesday he will run to succeed Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsMcBath passes on running for Senate Leaders of House antitrust investigation to meet with Zuckerberg GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan 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 StiversBill requiring carbon monoxide detectors in public housing passes House The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Republicans offer support for Steve King challenger 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 EmmerGOP Rep. Sean Duffy resigning from Congress Democrat running for Will Hurd's seat raises over million in first 100 days of campaign The House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 MORE (R-Minn.), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerMissouri Republican wins annual craft brewing competition for lawmakers Liberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow A true believer in diversity, inclusion 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 MeadowsThe Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan GOP struggles with retirement wave 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 PalmerHouse passes sweeping budget, debt limit deal Palmer's Paris agreement bashing lacks policy basis Tensions rise during GOP leadership meeting over dues MORE (R-Ala.)