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

House Republicans on Wednesday overwhelmingly elected Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy's Democratic challenger to launch first TV ad highlighting Air Force service as single mother Trump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill MORE (Calif.) as their new leader, rejecting a challenge from conservative Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats 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.  

ADVERTISEMENT

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 BoehnerLongtime House parliamentarian to step down Five things we learned from this year's primaries Bad blood between Pelosi, Meadows complicates coronavirus talks MORE (R-Ohio) announced his retirement, paving the way for Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates 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 TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid 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 ScaliseHouse GOP slated to unveil agenda ahead of election House panel details 'serious' concerns around Florida, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin elections Scalise hit with ethics complaint over doctored Barkan video MORE (La.) by voice vote to be minority whip, the No. 2 Republican.

Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups | Kudlow: 'No sector worse hurt than energy' during pandemic | Trump pledges 'no politics' in Pebble Mine review Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups  Press: The big no-show at the RNC MORE (Wyo.), former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, will succeed GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersHillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video Top House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing More than 100 lawmakers urge IRS to resolve stimulus payment issues 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 WalkerMike Johnson to run for vice chairman of House GOP conference The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Woodward book revelations rock Washington The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — Trump, Biden duel in final stretch | Vaccine trial on pause after recipient's 'potentially unexplained illness' | Biden visits Michigan | Trump campaign has 18 events in 11 states planned in the next week 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 SmithLongtime House parliamentarian to step down Pass the Primary Care Enhancement Act Trump coronavirus briefings put health officials in bind MORE (R-Mo.) won another two years in that post.

Meanwhile, Republicans picked Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerHouse Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts The Hill's Convention Report: Trump to attack Biden at final night of convention | Speech comes amid hurricane, racial justice protests | Biden accuses Trump of 'rooting' for violence Republicans cast Trump as best choice for women 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 PalmerComer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight Top GOP post on Oversight draws stiff competition Trump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race MORE (R-Ala.) defeated fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. David SchweikertDavid SchweikertHouse Democratic campaign leader predicts bigger majority Democrat Hiral Tipirneni wins Ariz. primary to challenge Rep. David Schweikert Ethics watchdog finds 'substantial' evidence of improper spending by Rep. Sanford Bishop 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 ConawayHouse Republican introduces amendment to include farm aid in stopgap funding bill Live coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing Laughter erupts at hearing after Democrat fires back: Trump 'has 5 Pinocchios on a daily basis' 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 CantorThe Hill's Campaign Report: Florida hangs in the balance Eric Cantor teams up with former rival Dave Brat in supporting GOP candidate in former district 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 BoehnerLongtime House parliamentarian to step down Five things we learned from this year's primaries Bad blood between Pelosi, Meadows complicates coronavirus talks 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 ClintonJoe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country Biden leads Trump by 12 points among Catholic voters: poll The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden goes on offense 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 SessionsThe Hill's Campaign Report: New polls show Biden leading by landslide margins The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - In Rose Garden, Trump launches anti-Biden screed Pete Sessions wins GOP runoff in comeback bid 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 YoungEric Idle threatens to sue GOP committee over use of Monty Python song in ad Trump: DeJoy should be removed if it 'can be proven that he did something wrong' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump's Labor Day news conference 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 DenhamBottom line Bottom line Lobbying world 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 RohrabacherDemocrat Harley Rouda advances in California House primary Lawyers to seek asylum for Assange in France: report Rohrabacher tells Yahoo he discussed pardon with Assange for proof Russia didn't hack DNC email 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 PelosiTrump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally CDC causes new storm by pulling coronavirus guidance Overnight Health Care: CDC pulls revised guidance on coronavirus | Government watchdog finds supply shortages are harming US response | As virus pummels US, Europe sees its own spike 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.