Andy Biggs to Challenge Kevin McCarthy for Speaker

Congressman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), after failing to defeat Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the GOP’s official nomination for Speaker of the House of Representatives, has announced that he will directly challenge McCarthy in the general election on January 3rd, 2023.

Biggs announced his bid for Speaker in an op-ed with the Daily Caller, calling on his colleagues in the House to “break the establishment” by voting for him.

“We cannot let this all too rare opportunity to effectuate structural change pass us by because it is uncomfortable to challenge the Republican candidate who is a creature of the establishment status quo, or because the challenge is accompanied by some minimal risk,” Biggs continued.

As reported by Axios, Biggs’ bid will only present further complications for McCarthy’s bid, as the Republicans head into the next Congress with 223 members of the House, which is a 5-seat majority. When the Republican caucus held a closed-door meeting to vote for their nominee on November 15th, McCarthy received 188 votes to Biggs’ 31, representing a clear portion of the Republican membership that is not satisfied with McCarthy’s leadership.

In the vote on January 3rd, a candidate needs to receive an absolute majority of all votes that are cast that day. If no candidate reaches a majority, then multiple ballots are held with the members casting their votes again until someone finally does. Members may choose to simply vote “present,” which do not count for or against any particular candidate.

Currently, at least five members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have publicly refused to support McCarthy; if these five do indeed vote for Biggs, then McCarthy will be denied the Speakership outright.

McCarthy’s troubles appear to be reminiscent of his previous attempt to become Speaker 7 years ago, after the resignation of John Boehner (R-Ohio). In that special election in October of 2015, McCarthy, then still the House Majority Leader, was initially seen as the frontrunner until his campaign collapsed due to a lack of support among the same conservative elements that opposed Boehner. The gavel ultimately went to then-Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the former vice presidential nominee, who retired in 2018.

In addition to McCarthy and Biggs, the Democratic nominee is Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a longtime protege of outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Although McCarthy allies have attempted to frighten conservatives by claiming a conservative split could elect Jeffries as Speaker, Democrats still maintain a clear majority of House votes in the new Congress, thus meaning that the total amount of Republican votes will still be greater than the total number of Democratic votes.

About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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