Ladies and gentlemen, meet your newly elected, extremely generic House Republican leader: California Rep. Kevin McCarthy!
Despite rumblings of a serious challenge for McCarthy’s bid to head the new minority Republican caucus, McCarthy handily defeated ultra-conservative Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan for his party’s leadership role, earning 159 votes to Jordan’s 43.
Hardly a dark horse candidate, McCarthy enjoyed three significant advantages in his race to become Minority Leader:
- He’s extremely close with President Donald Trump: So close, in fact, that Trump reportedly dipped his own stubby little fingers into the leadership race in order to ensure McCarthy’s victory.
- He’s already been at the front of the GOP’s “A” team: Before he became House Minority Leader, McCarthy served under Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as House Majority leader—a role that gave him a national profile and a taste of party leadership.
- He’s a relatively low key, generic Republican villain: I mean, look at this guy:
Could you honestly pick him out of a lineup of other middle-aged conservative dudes?
He’s the sort of milquetoast Republican ghoul who spouts predictably dumb garbage while working to screw over poor people and hurt immigrants. He is, in other words, an extremely safe Republican—unlike Jordan, whose far-right “Freedom Caucus” played whiny spoiler to the GOP’s legislative agenda for the past few years. He did, however, once admit that the Republicans’ ridiculously overwrought Benghazi hearings were fundamentally political in nature—a statement that did nothing to endear him to his fellow Republicans.
This isn’t McCarthy’s first bid to lead House Republicans. When former House Speaker John Boehner stepped down in 2015, McCarthy was in line to replace him before abruptly dropping out. A day before, North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones had written a letter calling for anyone running for a leadership role to withdraw if they had “misdeeds.” After McCarthy dropped out, Jones admitted that he wrote it because he had heard rumors of an affair between McCarthy and former GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers. (We reached out to Jones’ office for comment about McCarthy’s election as GOP leader, and will update with any response we receive.)
In any event, McCarthy will be the new House Republican leader. Time is a flat circle. Have fun.