McCarthy Drops Out of Race to Become House Speaker

Rep. Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Update No. 2, 10/09/16: Ironies of ironies. Conservative Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who is also a big commercial space supporter, told McCarthy to withdraw on Thursday. “Kevin, you need to not be in this race,” he said. Rohrabacher was incensed over McCarthy’s comments that indicated  the Republican-led Congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack was a politically motivated effort to derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.

Update, 10/08/16: It has emerged that a conservative activist threatened to expose an alleged affair between McCarthy and Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). The threat appears real; I have no idea whether there is anything to the accusation.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a supporter of commercial space, abruptly dropped out of the race to replace outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday. A House Republican Conference had been set to selected a candidate to be voted on by the full House on Oct. 29.

McCarthy, who as Majority Leader is second-in-command to Boehner, had been facing opposition from conservative members of the House. The Washington Post reported:

McCarthy’s hopes of uniting Republicans took a blow Wednesday when a close-knit group of roughly 40 hard-line conservatives, the House Freedom Caucus, said it would back a low-profile Florida lawmaker, Rep. Daniel Webster, instead.

Without any Democratic support expected, McCarthy would need 218 Republican votes out of 247 members to win the House floor vote. Opposition by the House Freedom Caucus would drop him below that number.

McCarthy, who is from Bakersfield, is seen as a supporter of commercial spaceflight. His district includes the Mojave Air and Space Port and the northern section of the Antelope Valley, which is also known as the Aerospace Valley.

The Congressman had been seen as the odds-on favorite to become the next House Speakers. However, he was opposed by some members of his party as being insufficiently conservative.

Further, McCarthy has been criticized for recent comments in which he indicated that the House investigations into the fatal attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had been a politically motivated effort to damage the presidential campaign of Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton.