We got a message a few minutes ago from a Hill staffer friend that McCarthy was out, and that the election was being postponed.
And shortly thereafter, it hit the cable news networks.
Today was supposed to be the day where a vote would take place within the Republican conference, and once the conference had decided on a candidate there would, at some other time, be a vote on the House floor wherein the Democrats would have their votes as well.
The other positions, like majority leader and whip, were to be decided later.
Now, the entire leadership roster is up for grabs.
The word is that McCarthy’s gaffe about the Benghazi special committee and how it knocked Hillary Clinton’s numbers down, which Democrats took as an admission that the Benghazi investigation was nothing but a political witch-hunt, was a killer for McCarthy. He’s a nice guy and people like him, but his support was soft to begin with and this was a major negative when it came to confidence.
So now it’s either a Jason Chaffetz or Dan Webster, unless somebody else gets in.
More as we get it.
UPDATE: Darrell Issa is speaking at the press gaggle on Capitol Hill, and he says that McCarthy had more votes than anybody else, and nobody is close to getting to 218 votes which is why they postponed the election.
McCarthy is staying on as majority leader, and he probably is the kingmaker of the next Speaker.
What does this mean for Steve Scalise? Probably that he either needs to try to run for Speaker, or he might need to fight to stay on as the Majority Whip.
UPDATE #2: There is a rumor that McCarthy was having an affair with fellow Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), and that this had something to do with his inability to get to 218.
Supposedly, another North Carolinian, Rep. Walter Jones, said something in the conference meeting to the effect that nobody with a demonstrable history of marital infidelity ought to be considered, and McCarthy was just asked about it at a press conference. He said “Nooooooooo,” as though that was a crazy question, but it wasn’t overly convincing.
Not that this was the reason he couldn’t get to 218. The Benghazi gaffe was probably enough by itself.
There’s a guy out in America who has emails for a massive number of members of Congress and the email addresses of highly influential conservatives outside Congress.
A few days ago, he emailed out to 91 people, including these members of Congress, an email with a series of links to stories alleging a relationship between Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina. It is worth nothing that the two deny a relationship.
But the email began circulating pretty heavily. Conservatives were buzzing about it. The first line pointed to the current scandal about Denny Hastert and concluded suggesting that if the rumor about McCarthy and his personal life were true, he was a national security risk.
Even some natural leadership allies such as Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) expressed doubts about promoting McCarthy to Speaker, a job second in line to the presidency.
“He has not spoken to me personally for my vote, and Jason Chaffetz has, so that’s where I am right now. At this point I will be casting a vote for Jason Chaffetz,” said Ellmers, who is facing a GOP primary challenger. “I can’t vote for someone who doesn’t ask for my vote.
“I’m apparently not high on his priority list,” she added.
A lot of people in Washington, including the members of Congress on that email chain, were scratching their head. It appeared there was smoke. Then Congressman Walter Jones demanded candidates with “moral turpitude issues” get out of the race. Add all of this with McCarthy’s statement undermining the Benghazi investigation and . . . well . . . .
It is again worth noting that both parties deny it. But the rumor itself may have led to McCarthy’s collapse. It has become a louder buzz over the past few days with more and more people on and off the hill talking about it. Once Ellmers’ odd quote was out there, the buzzing became chatter.