McCarthy Isn’t Speaker Yet, but Some Conservatives Want to ‘Fire’ Him Already
Policy + Politics

McCarthy Isn’t Speaker Yet, but Some Conservatives Want to ‘Fire’ Him Already

© Gary Cameron / Reuters

Well, that didn’t take long.

Marking what is surely the shortest honeymoon period on record for a Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives – actually numbering in a negative amount of time, if that’s even possible – there is already a movement afoot among conservatives to “fire” current Speaker John Boehner’s presumptive replacement, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

McCarthy, a Californian who ascended to the majority leader post with less than eight years’ experience in the House, is expected to win the support of the Republican caucus next week, though he might not actually become speaker until the end of October if Boehner sticks to a plan that would allow him to retain power even after his successor is chosen by the GOP members.

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However, if McCarthy does get the nod from the caucus, a group of outside political action committees and conservative activists are already banding together to pressure conservatives in the House to remove him from the speakership.

Complete with a website located at the group launched Wednesday night. Their argument is that, after far-right members forced the resignation of John Boehner, who they deem to be insufficiently conservative, it makes no sense to support a McCarthy speakership or, as they refer to such an eventuality, Boehner 2.0.

The effort is being organized by conservative activist Larry Ward, the chairman of the Constitutional Rights PAC and president of Political Media. In an interview he characterized the effort as “a shot across the bow a preemptive strike to let establishment republicans know he’s not acceptable.”

Ward said that the new House leadership elections, scheduled for Oct. 8, are being rushed by the party establishment in an effort to smooth the path for McCarthy, who Ward described as “John Boehner without the orange spray tan.”

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He said that the impression of support for McCarthy among the Republican caucus is being manufactured by party elites and doesn’t reflect the real feeling of the majority of members.

“I’ve spoken to many members on the hill who aren’t for McCarthy,” Ward said. “He’s absolutely not who we need as speaker of the house, or third in line for the presidency for that matter.”

Ward said that his group will start circulating petitions, which will then be presented to members of Congress following a Capitol Hill press conference that he expects to schedule next Wednesday, the day before the leadership vote.

He said the Fire McCarthy movement isn’t backing any particular candidate at this point, but said that might change. “We’d like to get behind any member of congress who will reform leadership and give power back to the entire 435 members of Congress.”

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The group has already earned the endorsement of a handful of well-known conservative activists.

Former Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, a Tea Party conservative who resigned his seat in order to wage an unsuccessful bid for the Senate in 2014, has also joined the group’s ranks.

“Having worked with Kevin McCarthy in the House, I’ll admit he’s a friendly guy,” Broun said. “But we need a dramatic change in House leadership – we can’t afford to replace Speaker Boehner with someone who will continue to carry out his failed legacy, one that has been stifling conservative progress for six years.

“McCarthy and Boehner are cut from the same establishment cloth, and if the former replaces the latter, I’m pledging to help my fellow Americans mobilize to make sure he’s fired,” he said.

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The movement has gained the support of a handful of reasonably well known figures in the conservative movement. Sean McCutcheon, the conservative donor whose Supreme Court challenge last year undid many campaign finance contribution limits has brought in his Conservative Action Fund. Larry Klayman, the perpetual Clinton antagonist and founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, is on board, as is conservative activist Alan Keyes.

What the Fire McCarthy movement doesn’t have, at least not yet, is backing from any House Republicans.

Ward insists that he has spoken to numerous House members who support him, but did not name names.

“We’re going to attempt to get some public support from members of Congress,” he said. However, raising the specter of retaliation by House leadership, he said, “I don’t blame them for being quiet right now.”