(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) Speculation has mounted that former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., may decide to call it quits early, Axios reported.
McCarthy fueled speculation that he might retire when he posted a photo on Instagram showing his district office in a state of disarray, as if everything was being packed away.
Although McCarthy’s California district is not seen as competitive for Democrats, the vacancy would further narrowing the GOP’s razor-thin majority even as a House vote to oust Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., was already likely to turn the GOP’s nine-member advantage into a seven-member one, pending the outcome of a special election.
Still, not all Republicans think that the former speaker should remain.
Among those speculating on McCarthy’s future was Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who spearheaded the effort to eject him from the speakership in October by invoking a motion to vacate after McCarthy surrendered to Democrats on a contentious budget negotiation.
Gaetz suggested that McCarthy would return to the protection of those whose interests he advanced while in office—the corporations and lobbyists who bankrolled him.
“I suspect the former speaker will return to spend more time with the people he’s always represented—on Wall Street and K Street. I don’t imagine he’ll be walking the streets of Bakersfield,” Gaetz noted.
Gaetz’s relationship with McCarthy has been understandably fraught following the October shakeup, which caught the over-confident GOP leader off-guard and resulted in several weeks of disarray in the GOP caucus.
“[T]he only reason people think there’s chaos in this town right now is because the special interests aren’t in control any more,” Gaetz said at the time. “I think we’re going to have an upgrade on the position of speaker of the House.”
But the Florida congressman was not the only elected official with thoughts about McCarthy’s potential departure.
Other lawmakers who commented anonymously agreed that it was time for McCarthy to call it quits after the anticlimactic finish in his 16-year climb to power.
“I can’t really imagine that Kevin really wants to stick around,” one lawmaker said, while expressing support for the deposed leader.
“I’ll support him with whatever he wants to do,” said the McCarthy ally, adding that he “did a lot of really good things he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for.”
Others were not so conciliatory.
“Why the hell would he stay?” another member of the House asked.
“Damn shame,” said another.