It’s conservatives’ big chance to take control of the House of Representatives, and apparently they don’t know what to do with it.
After five years of railing against House Speaker John Boehner, the right flank of the Republican conference finally has a shot at putting up its own candidate for speaker. But so far, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, an establishment front man, has the inside track on the job, and long-shot Daniel Webster of Florida is the only declared conservative candidate.
Behind closed doors, conservatives are finding it difficult to draft a candidate to go head-to-head with McCarthy. As Boehner’s powerful deputy, he may not represent a radical power shift for the House GOP, but he’s well-connected to high-rolling donors and leaders. McCarthy is a prominent fundraiser who’s already raked in more than $3.9 million this year between his campaign committee and PAC.
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus huddled Monday night in a private meeting to discuss how they could influence the leadership elections, but several told National Journal that putting up their own candidate may not be possible, because no one is willing to be the sacrificial lamb.
“There were discussions of someone like Jim Jordan, who is a very capable guy ... and his belief is ‘No, I couldn’t make it,’” said one conservative who spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could talk freely about the elections. “I think that is the belief of many. Why would you tilt against a windmill if you can’t win? Well, that leaves the larger question of why are we tilting against the windmill?”