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

House Republicans on Wednesday overwhelmingly elected Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMcCarthy supports Cheney remaining in leadership amid calls for her to step down The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden hits the ground running on COVID Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear MORE (Calif.) as their new leader, rejecting a challenge from conservative Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day McCarthy won't back effort to oust Cheney 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 BoehnerCan the GOP break its addiction to show biz? House conservatives plot to oust Liz Cheney Ex-Speaker Boehner after Capitol violence: 'The GOP must awaken' MORE (R-Ohio) announced his retirement, paving the way for Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Revising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices 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 TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism 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 ScaliseBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration House GOP lawmaker: Trump 'put all of our lives at risk' MORE (La.) by voice vote to be minority whip, the No. 2 Republican.

Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyFor Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief McCarthy supports Cheney remaining in leadership amid calls for her to step down Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated MORE (Wyo.), former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, will succeed GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersWashington Republican reverses, says she won't object to Electoral College vote McMorris Rodgers floats vacating Speaker's chair over Democrat's in-person vote after COVID diagnosis OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee | McMorris Rodgers wins race for top GOP spot on Energy and Commerce | EPA joins conservative social network Parler 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 WalkerSeven Senate races to watch in 2022 Lara Trump leading Republicans in 2022 North Carolina Senate poll Rep. Mark Walker announces Senate bid in North Carolina 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 SmithBiden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results House GOP raise concerns over Biden's top Cabinet nominees MORE (R-Mo.) won another two years in that post.

Meanwhile, Republicans picked Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerGOP at crossroads after Capitol siege Wave of companies cut off donations — much of it to GOP California was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success 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 PalmerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results McCarthy woos Freedom Caucus with eye on Speakership MORE (R-Ala.) defeated fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. David SchweikertDavid SchweikertREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit House GOP proposed rules change sparks concern 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 ConawayThompson named top Republican on Agriculture Bottom line House Republican introduces amendment to include farm aid in stopgap funding bill 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 CantorBiden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation Can the GOP break its addiction to show biz? Leaving on a high note: Outgoing NRCC head looks to build on 2020 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 BoehnerCan the GOP break its addiction to show biz? House conservatives plot to oust Liz Cheney Ex-Speaker Boehner after Capitol violence: 'The GOP must awaken' 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 ClintonSamantha Power's Herculean task: Turning a screw with a rubber screwdriver Beau Biden Foundation to deny lobbyist donations, make major donors public Whoopi Goldberg wears 'my vice president' shirt day after inauguration 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 YoderBottom line Amanda Adkins wins GOP primary to challenge Rep. Sharice Davids Sharice Davids to vote for Trump impeachment articles: 'The facts are uncontested' MORE (Kan.), Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results National lawyers group seeks to have Gohmert disciplined over election suit On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 MORE (Texas), John FasoJohn James FasoDemocrats go big on diversity with new House recruits Kyle Van De Water wins New York GOP primary to challenge Rep. Antonio Delgado The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (N.Y.) and David YoungDavid Edmund YoungFirst-term Democrat presses for coronavirus relief agreement this year Axne wins reelection in Iowa Democrats lead in 3 of 4 Iowa House races: poll 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 DenhamBusiness groups breathe sigh of relief over prospect of divided government Ex-RNC, Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy charged in covert lobbying scheme Bottom line MORE, Steve KnightStephen (Steve) Thomas KnightThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Pelosi touts T bill as Fauci stresses go-slow openings The Hill's Campaign Report: A Los Angeles House seat is in play for Republicans Democrats on edge over California special election nail-biter MORE and Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 California was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success GOP's Steel wins California House race after Democrat Rouda concedes 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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils virus plan and urges patience | Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden | House to move quickly on COVID-19 relief Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 On The Money: Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief | Biden faces backlash over debt | 900,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits 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.