Current and incoming House Republican members representing battleground congressional districts and districts won by President Biden in the 2020 presidential election pledged Thursday to support House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for speaker.
The group of 15 signatories, elected by six representatives and nine representatives, said in a letter sent to their Republican colleagues that they “will not support any shadowy so-called ‘consensus candidate'” for the speakership.
It was a letter Politico got it first.
“Let’s be clear: We’re not endorsing Kevin McCarthy for speaker, but no shadow is open to the so-called ‘consensus candidate’ — regardless of how many votes it takes to elect Speaker-designate McCarthy,” he said.
His pledge comes as McCarthy tries to garner enough support to be elected speaker when the 118th Congress convenes on Tuesday.
At least five GOP House members have said outright or strongly indicated they won’t support McCarthy for speaker, and more have made demands for the next person in the role. With Republicans holding only a narrow majority in the next session, McCarthy could afford to lose more than four votes to win the Speakership election, with every member of the House present and voting.
Five of McCarthy’s opponents have said they do not plan to support him but have instead indicated no clear alternative to winning the speakership.
The letter’s signers said no conservative candidate other than McCarthy could win the support of 218 Republicans to become speaker. He noted that McCarthy accepted several rule changes requested by members of the Republican conference and the House as a whole.
McCarthy has announced his support for multiple rule changes, including a requirement that 72 hours pass between when the final text of a bill is released and when it receives a vote. He expressed support for calls by some House Republicans to block legislative proposals from Senate Republicans who voted for an omnibus government funding bill last week.
But he told conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt earlier this month that five members had not opposed his speakership.
The letter’s signatories said they were concerned that some of the rule changes accepted by McCarthy could inadvertently give more power to minority Democrats, but they supported the changes if they could unite the Republican conference behind McCarthy.
“It’s our sincere hope that we can all come together as a business to solve the challenges facing the American people, and to make sure that we move forward,” he said.