McCarthy Defeats Jordan in Bid for House Minority Leader

Rep. Kevin McCarthy / Getty Images
November 14, 2018

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) will serve as House minority leader in the 116th Congress after defeating Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) on Wednesday with a final vote of 159 to 43.

Republican Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Steve Scalise (La.), were also elected to Republican leadership positions as the party prepares to move into the minority come January.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) announced earlier this year that he would not run for reelection, so his retirement opened up the top spot in House Republican leadership for McCarthy and Jordan to compete over. Jordan initially announced back in July he would run to be the next speaker of the House if Republicans kept control of the chamber. However, Democrats took control of the House after last week's midterm elections, and Jordan announced the next day that he would challenge McCarthy for the position.

"In 2016, the American people elected Republicans to come here and change this town. I think the president is doing just that, but I don't think they see the same intensity from folks in Congress, folks in the House of Representatives," Jordan said."Have we replaced ObamaCare yet? Have we secured the border yet? Have we reformed welfare yet? No we haven't."

McCarthy announced that same day he would run for House minority leader. In a letter sent to his Republican colleagues, he informed them that all the party's successes over the last two years woud be "under attack" by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), the current minority leader who may be the next House speaker.

"We have a responsibility to protect our constituents from higher taxes and increasing government control over their lives. And we need to lay the groundwork to regain the majority so that we can continue working alongside President Trump to fulfill our promise to fundamentally change Washington," McCarthy wrote. "I helped build a majority from a deeper hole than this and I have what it takes to do it again. That is why I have decided to run for Republican Leader and humbly ask for your support."

Cheney was elected to a House leadership position for the first time, with a voice vote confirming her as the next Republican conference chair, the third-ranking position in party leadership with Republicans in the minority. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.) announced last week she would not seek reelection to the post after Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced her challenge.

In the letter she sent to her Republican colleagues, Cheney signaled dissatisfaction with the job McMorris Rodgers has done during her tenure and promised she would be more aggressive in her messaging against Democrats.

Scalise, who is currently the House majority whip, also ran unopposed in his bid for the minority whip position, garnering a unanimous vote.