If there is one thing we all learned from Nancy Pelosi’s incredible career as Speaker, it is that math counts.
McCarthy’s math problem
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met on Tuesday with key members of his conference — including several right-wing detractors — as part of an intensifying effort to cobble together the votes he needs to become speaker.
Why it matters: McCarthy is at risk of a humiliating and potentially career-ending defeat with just five weeks until the Jan. 3 speaker election, as several members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus are still publicly vowing to deny him crucial votes.
Driving the news: Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) told Axios on Tuesday he’s a firm “no” on McCarthy after previously leaving wiggle room: “I will be voting for an alternative candidate. I will not be voting for Kevin McCarthy.”
So how bad is it? Bad (Emphasis mine):
McCarthy will need a majority of voting members to elect him speaker. With a House Republican majority of just five or six seats, he will only be able to afford a handful of defections.
- In addition to Good, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Ralph Norman (R-N.C.) have said they are hard “no’s”. Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mt.) has also voiced firm opposition.
- That may not be the extent of McCarthy’s troubles: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), one of his key allies in the Freedom Caucus, estimated that privately there “could be as many as 10” no votes.
- McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday he won’t drop out if he fails on the first vote, promising a floor fight even if the process goes into multiple ballots: “At the end of the day, we’ll get there.”
Pelosi’s secret sauce was basically the opposite of K-Macs weak sauce: nothing came to the floor unless she had the votes for it. She would keep things in her pocket until she had the votes for it. If it was important legislation, she would leverage other, lesser bills to get the votes she wanted. K-Mac, on a good day can count to 20 if he takes off his shoes, and you don’t want to know about 21.
K-Mac is starting off without the votes, and even if he somehow becomes Speaker, he’ll never have the votes to negotiate deals because: Rudderless Republicans. K-Mac is really bad at his job.