Kevin McCarthy

Particle politics revisited

Republicans have nominated Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Minority Leader, to be Speaker of the House if the GOP takes control in January.

It’s not clear, however, that McCarthy will be able to win the votes necessary to become Speaker. McCarthy has been making unsubtle promises over the past few days that he may be able to become Speaker. McCarthy demanded that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas quit or face possible impeachment while on a visit to the southern border. McCarthy promised that Republicans would begin every day of Congress next year with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. There will be no exceptions.”

Republicans are free to adopt any rule that pertains to House operations if they claim control of the House in January. The House begins every session with the pledge and prayer anyway. House rule XIV states that “the daily order…shall be as following: First. Prayer by the Chaplain. Second. Second. Third: The pledge of allegiance to the Flag

Republicans can always change the rule to make sure that the “Approval for the Journal” does not interrupt the pledge and prayer. However, this is a very minimal change.

This shows that McCarthy is trying to get enough votes to be elected Speaker. Promises to remove Reps. Ilhan Omar, D.Minn., Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from committees. To satisfy the right’s cravings, hinting at impeachment and Appealing to religious conservatives.

It might work. It may work, but the math doesn’t favor McCarthy until January’s floor vote. It is unlikely that McCarthy will be supported by the following: Ralph Norman, R.S.C.; Matt Gaetz, R.Fla.; Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.); Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.); Bob Good (R. Va.). This could provide enough votes to defeat McCarthy’s bid for the gable.


Steve Scalise (Republican-La.) House Minority Whip Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is the House Republican Conference Chairwoman. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), is the incoming House Majority Whip. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio? Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.)?

McCarthy, R-Ohio’s former House Speaker John Boehner was supposed to be the new speaker. Then, former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) accepted the job, despite his adamant claim that he did not want the gig.

In the past 15 to 20, there were instances when the next GOP leader or House speaker was supposed to have been Eric Cantor (R-Va). Cantor lost the primary. Former Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) was considered a possible successor to Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) tried his hand at a leadership bid a few years ago.

Others who lost their way include Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and ex-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

This brings me to my most lasting observation about Congress. The “particle” of politics determines who ends up in Congressional leadership positions. This means that the outcome of Congressional leadership positions is determined by sub-atomic, tiny, and infinitely small political particles. It was difficult to imagine McCarthy not becoming Speaker seven years ago. He didn’t win the gavel. Ryan was difficult to predict becoming Speaker in 2015. Yet he did.

McCarthy is currently the odds-on favorite for House Speaker next January 3. McCarthy, however, has not received the votes. So, is it possible for someone else to become Speaker by using means that aren’t yet known? Possible

It all comes down to “particle politics.”

Similar events took place on the Democratic side to replace Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as leader of the party.

Pelosi’s ascension is a Washington game that has been played for many years. Pelosi was assisted by Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), who helped to form three legs for a stool that represented all wings of the House Democratic Caucus. The stool will collapse if one of its legs is removed. Pelosi was believed to be the last of the three. This is what happened when Pelosi and Hoyer left their leadership positions. Clyburn is still there but in a less prominent leadership role.

However, it took a decade to figure out who would succeed Pelosi.

Pelosi has had a rivalry with Hoyer since they worked together in the office late Sen. Daniel Brewster (D-Md.) in the 1960s. Pelosi frequently blocked Hoyer from running for the leadership. Pelosi supported the late Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Penn.) for Majority Leader in 2006. But Hoyer won. Hoyer would not challenge Pelosi to the top Democratic leadership position. Hoyer was unable to win the votes and would lose. Over the years, Republicans have privately admitted that they fear Hoyer more than Pelosi as Speaker. Hoyer’s outstanding reputation for working across the aisle and not portraying the GOP as a liberal foil explains this.

Hoyer missed the opportunity. Clyburn was not so fortunate.

Some members of the Democratic Caucus were even concerned that Jane Harman (D-Calif.) could be a threat to Pelosi at one point in time. They had a cold relationship for many years. Harman never challenged Pelosi.

Harman was not around for long enough to last Pelosi should the opportunity arise.

Pelosi’s appointment of several Democratic lieutenants to her ranks fueled speculation for many years. But they never had the opportunity due to the Speaker’s long-term health.

The current Ambassador to Japan, former Chicago Mayor, White House Chief Of Staff, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill) were the first in line. After helping Democrats win control in the House, where they chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee(DCCC) in 2006, and became Democratic Caucus Chairman (D-Ill), former President Obama drafted Emanuel as Chief of Staff.

Then came Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Van Hollen, D-Md., was present in the House at that time but eventually moved to Senate.

For a while, the spotlight was on former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.). Former Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), was the Health and Human Services Secretary at the time. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) was also in that mix. Crowley, like Cantor, lost his primary to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Schiff could have been the next potential Pelosi successor. Schiff launched a not-so-stealthy campaign to succeed Pelosi. Many House Democrats stated that Schiff would not have started such an effort without Pelosi’s explicit or implicit blessing. This is partly due to the special relationship that Schiff and Pelosi have had for years. This was evident when Pelosi asked Schiff to be the lead manager for former President Trump’s impeachment trial. The Intelligence Committee is chaired by Schiff. In such impeachment proceedings, the House Judiciary Committee chairman was traditionally the “prosecutor”. The chairman of the Intelligence Committee was not the case.

Schiff was unable to win the votes necessary to succeed Pelosi. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), House Democratic Caucus Chairman, has almost completed the deal to succeed Pelosi via acclamation.

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