Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., raised eyebrows earlier this week when he did not reject the idea of running for his old job, but sources indicated to Fox News Digital that it’s a long shot at best.
It could result in a prolonged race to succeed him, with at least three GOP lawmakers vowing to vote for McCarthy in Wednesday morning’s closed-door election to select House Republicans’ next speaker candidate.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in it,” a McCarthy ally told Fox News Digital. “The conference has moved on. Time for a change.”
“It might hold things up, but the next speaker will either be [Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio] or [Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La.],” they added.
Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., one of those who spoke out in support of McCarthy at a members-only Monday night meeting, told Fox News Digital on Tuesday that he would vote for the ex-speaker again — and that several others felt the same.
“Unless Speaker McCarthy suggests otherwise, I intend on voting for [him] for Speaker of the House,” Gimenez said. “Speaker McCarthy should have never been removed and a growing number of our Republican members agree and will be voting for Speaker McCarthy as well.”
Gimenez said McCarthy was a “proven leader,” especially given the developing crisis in the Middle East as Israel wages war on Hamas after its militants slaughtered hundreds of Israeli civilians.
Another of those McCarthy allies who spoke up for him on Monday night, Rep. John Duarte, R-Calif., echoed those sentiments in a “Fox & Friends” interview earlier that morning.
“There is no greater friend of Israel than Kevin McCarthy and, in terms of American government this last year, Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the House, has been the adult in the room,” Duarte said. “We need Kevin McCarthy back in the speakership right now. We need to get that vote done this week.”
But convincing the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats to remove McCarthy last week could prove an impossible task.
Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., one of those eight, told reporters on Monday that he could be open to Scalise or Jordan but definitively ruled out voting for McCarthy.
“Why would we? We’ll have a speaker by Wednesday and honestly, what is Congress’s role in all this in the Middle East? And you know, we’re going to — [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has basically told America ‘let us handle it,’ and he’ll handle it,” Burchett said.
Scalise and Jordan are currently the only two formally declared candidates in the race. In the best case scenario, House Republicans choose a speaker on Wednesday morning and the House holds a floor vote later that day.
But if they fail to choose a candidate, that House-wide vote could be delayed to Friday or even next week.
A senior GOP aide told Fox News Digital that McCarthy’s candidacy likely would not go far but has a good chance of delaying the race.
“It isn’t viable and could draw out the process,” the senior GOP aide said. “McCarthy can’t get to 217 because the eight who voted against him have moved on, as have others in the conference. Most people are looking forward, not backward.”
Another Republican aide suggested McCarthy’s initial base of support to retake the gavel will likely fade as the vote goes on.
“The people who are pushing him, I mean, they’re gonna fall eventually in line with whoever has the most votes for speaker,” the second aide said. “You know, at a certain point in time, everyone just wants to get on with the business of governing.”