Incoming Congress looks more like America
McCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) expressed confidence that he would retain his leadership position even if Democrats expand their House majority in November.
"I think I'm a pretty good vote counter. I would think I already have the votes," McCarthy told Politico. "I think, having been through everything I've been through and knowing these races, I'm stronger today than at any other time I've had leadership races."
McCarthy has been a close ally of President Trump, largely averting mutinies from the House's conservative flank. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of Trump's most vocal supporters in the chamber, said through a spokesman last week that he would not challenge McCarthy's leadership, even if the GOP loses seats in November.
"Mr. Jordan thinks Kevin McCarthy is doing a tremendous job for the Conference," spokesman Russell Dye told The Hill. Jordan challenged McCarthy for minority leader after the 2018 midterms, but McCarthy has since helped the Ohio Republican secure the position of top Republican on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.
A House Republican aide told Politico that some members of the House Republican Conference have floated a delay of leadership elections until after December, which could allow any challengers to gather support. However, existing leadership would most likely not let such a delay proceed, the news outlet noted.
"I see Kevin as safe. I also believe he already has the votes locked up to be reelected leader, regardless of the outcome of the election," Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) told Politico. "[Steve] Scalise [R-La.] as whip, McCarthy as leader, they're both in a strong position to be reelected without challenge."
Scalise would likely be the best-positioned challenger to McCarthy. However, both have been similarly supportive of Trump, meaning Scalise would have a harder time presenting himself as an alternative.
Scalise told Politico he is prioritizing the general election.
"[M]y sole focus these last few weeks is hitting as many districts as I can to help share our message alongside our great members and candidates, with 44 more planned events between now and Election Day, as well as ensuring they have the financial resources they need to make it over the finish line," he said in a statement.