McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote

House Republicans on Wednesday overwhelmingly elected Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming McCarthy calls on incoming Democrats to embrace bipartisanship, not 'food fight' or investigations GOP congresswoman says she opted out of NRCC run because McCarthy had 'a different plan' MORE (Calif.) as their new leader, rejecting a challenge from conservative Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by Amgen — For Republicans, fight over fetal tissue research comes back to Planned Parenthood | CDC traces contaminated romaine lettuce to California farm | Dems aim to punt vote on ObamaCare taxes For Republicans, fight over fetal tissue research comes back to Planned Parenthood Meadows looks to make his move MORE (Ohio) and turning to a familiar face as they prepare to grapple with life in the minority.

McCarthy, the majority leader for the past four years, trounced Jordan in a 159-43 vote — a lopsided outcome that McCarthy allies saw as a firm rebuke of the House Freedom Caucus, the group of conservative bomb-throwers co-founded by Jordan that frequently clashes with GOP leadership.  

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It was a good day for McCarthy, who just more than three years ago shockingly abandoned a bid for the Speakership after Rep. John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerOpening day of new Congress: Not always total joy Meadows looks to make his move Fractious GOP vows to unify in House minority MORE (R-Ohio) announced his retirement, paving the way for Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's 12:30 Report – Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | GOP in turmoil over Trump shutdown threat | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end Trump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming Senate heads toward floor fight on criminal justice bill MORE (R-Wis.) to become Speaker.

The withdrawal in 2015 raised questions about McCarthy’s future, but the California Republican is now both the leader of his conference and a trusted ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpAustralia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israeli capital, won't move embassy Mulvaney will stay on as White House budget chief Trump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law MORE.

“We know the Democrats have a plan: They want to disrupt. They want to try to impeach. And they want to stall what achievements we were able to move forward,” McCarthy, flanked by his new leadership team, told reporters after his victory. “But we know America is too great for such a small vision.”

Earlier Wednesday, there were reports that Trump had put pressure on McCarthy to cut a deal with conservatives and make Jordan the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

But McCarthy allies said there would be a revolt in the conference if Jordan was handed the prized Judiciary post after suffering a blowout in the leader race. The leadership-aligned Republican Steering Committee will pick their committee leaders after Thanksgiving.

“There would be a lot of people who would have conversations with Leader McCarthy if Jordan was rewarded with a ranking member spot due to pressure from the president and our leadership team to try to steer the Steering Committee,” one McCarthy ally told The Hill.

Republican lawmakers also selected Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming Overnight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force House lawmakers delay decision on Saudi Arabia pending investigation MORE (La.) by voice vote to be minority whip, the No. 2 Republican.

Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyScalise backs Stefanik's push to help GOP women in primaries GOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules ‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women MORE (Wyo.), former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, will succeed GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersWashington governor announces killer whale recovery plan ‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — House, Senate leaders named as Pelosi lobbies for support to be Speaker MORE (Wash.), who opted not to run for a fourth term in leadership. At the No. 3 spot, Cheney is now the highest-ranking woman in GOP leadership in the Capitol.

Both Scalise and Cheney ran unopposed.

In other uncontested races, Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerCharities fear hit from Trump tax law during holidays Dems 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 MORE (R-N.C.), a Baptist preacher and leader of the conservative Republican Study Committee, was elected GOP conference vice chairman, while current GOP Conference Secretary Jason SmithJason Thomas SmithMcCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Record numbers of women nominated for governor, Congress MORE (R-Mo.) won another two years in that post.

Meanwhile, Republicans picked Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerNorth Carolina on cusp of House race reset GOP congresswoman says she opted out of NRCC run because McCarthy had 'a different plan' Democratic strategist says GOP needs ‘exorcism’ after House midterm losses MORE (R-Minn.) to lead candidate recruitment and campaign efforts as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee as the GOP tries to win back the majority in 2020.

In the only other competitive race, 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.) defeated fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. David SchweikertDavid SchweikertMcCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Hillicon Valley: Trump considers revoking Obama-era officials' security clearances | Record lobbying quarter for Facebook, Amazon | Why Hollywood wants Google hauled before Congress | New worries about supply chain cyber threats MORE (R-Ariz.) in the race for GOP Policy Committee chairman.

The election of McCarthy, the 53-year-old former deli owner and congressional aide, hands the reins of leadership to a proven fundraiser who speaks to Trump on a weekly basis.

For the past several election cycles, McCarthy had barnstormed every corner of the country, campaigning and raising millions of dollars for current and future GOP colleagues — efforts that he called in this week as he ran for the top GOP slot.

A day earlier, McCarthy made his pitch to colleagues as to why he was the right man to lead the party back to the majority in two years. Republicans, he said, need to do a better job competing with Democrats on the fundraising front and picking better primary candidates who can win in the general election, according to lawmakers in the room.

“I’ve worked with Kevin since he got here, been at his chairmen’s table for four years. He’s the right guy,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayThis week: Trump, Dems set to meet amid funding fight This week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote MORE (R-Texas), who attends a weekly meeting in McCarthy’s office, told The Hill. “He’s got the contacts, he’s got that stratosphere of donors that can match Michael Bloomberg and those guys.”

McCarthy has had a rapid ascent in Washington, though it has not always been smooth.

The gregarious lawmaker got his start in politics in the late 1990s in California’s Central Valley as an aide to then-Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), the powerful Ways and Means Committee chairman, whom McCarthy would later replace in Congress after a stint as minority leader in the California Assembly.

In 2008, just two years after arriving in Washington, McCarthy was catapulted into leadership when then-Minority Whip Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorStefanik: GOP leaders need to step up their female recruitment efforts GM lobbyists go into full crisis mode over layoffs Bottom Line MORE (R-Va.) tapped him to be his chief deputy whip. When a Tea Party wave swept Republicans into power in 2010, Cantor was promoted to majority leader and McCarthy won the majority whip job, the GOP’s top vote-counter and No. 3 post.

In 2014, Cantor’s shocking primary loss to Tea Party insurgent Dave Brat (R-Va.) cleared a path for McCarthy to take the majority leader post, the No. 2 job. And when BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerOpening day of new Congress: Not always total joy Meadows looks to make his move Fractious GOP vows to unify in House minority MORE quit the very next year, McCarthy was positioned to rise again.

But a major political gaffe on Fox News — suggesting the GOP had launched a special Benghazi committee to politically harm Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLanny Davis says Nixon had more respect for the Constitution than Trump Clinton commemorates Sandy Hook anniversary: 'No child should have to fear violence' Sanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids MORE’s White House bid — proved to be an enormous setback. After the new conservative Freedom Caucus refused to back him, denying him the 218 votes he needed on the House floor, McCarthy abruptly dropped out of the Speaker’s race on the day of the leadership election and threw his support to Ryan.

After 2½ years as Speaker, Ryan in April announced his retirement from Congress, setting off a shadow campaign between his top deputies, McCarthy and Scalise, to replace him.

But that growing rivalry was put on ice after Democrats picked up more than 30 GOP House seats in last week’s midterm elections and relegated Republicans to minority status beginning in January. McCarthy had personally campaigned for most of those Republicans who lost on election night, including Reps. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderGOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' New House GOP campaign chairman lays out challenges for 2020 Dems play ‘Let’s make a deal’ with Nancy Pelosi MORE (Kan.), Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsGOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote House GOP blocks lawmakers from forcing Yemen war votes for rest of year Advocates see state legislatures as next frontier for pot legalization MORE (Texas), John FasoJohn James FasoTax law failed to save GOP majority New York New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote MORE (N.Y.) and David YoungDavid Edmund YoungIowa New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote Dem Axne beats GOP Rep. Young in Iowa MORE (Iowa).

McCarthy’s victory Wednesday comes during a grim moment for his own California GOP delegation. Democrats have flipped four GOP-controlled seats in the Bakersfield Republican’s home state, including those held by Reps. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamPolling editor says news outlets should be more cautious calling elections Rep. Valadao officially concedes in California race Ryan casts doubt on 'bizarre' California election results MORE, Steve KnightStephen (Steve) Thomas KnightRyan casts doubt on 'bizarre' California election results Calif. congresswoman-elect bumps into Pelosi at airport Democratic gains erasing House GOP in California MORE and Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherRohrabacher eyes new career as a screenwriter after losing reelection Ryan casts doubt on 'bizarre' California election results Democratic gains erasing House GOP in California MORE. And Democrats are in position to flip two more seats in Orange County, once a GOP stronghold.

If newly empowered Democrats choose Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law Federal judge in Texas strikes down ObamaCare Trump names Mulvaney acting chief of staff MORE (D-Calif.) to return as Speaker in January, it will mean both parties in the lower chamber will be controlled by leaders from the same state for the first time in history.

This story was updated at 5 p.m.