House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is facing a floor fight as he hopes to become speaker of the House of Representatives when his party assumes the majority next month. However, you wouldn’t know that by looking at his official website, which is already touting McCarthy as the “House Speaker-elect.”
The title of McCarthy’s official leadership website, RepublicanLeader.gov, has been modified to proclaim him as “House Speaker-elect.” That honorific — which McCarthy has not earned yet — is visible in Google as well as the source code for his page.
McCarthy’s bid to lead the incoming Republican majority has been complicated by the slim margin the party earned in last month’s midterm elections. The speaker needs to earn support from the majority of House members who vote on Jan. 3. McCarthy could guarantee the post by locking down 218 votes. The GOP will have just a single-digit edge over the Democrats with no more than 222 seats, which means even a small cadre of opponents from within his own party could derail McCarthy’s hopes.
So far, according to the Washington Post, “at least five” Republicans from the party’s right flank have come out against McCarthy putting his vote count in danger. McCarthy’s bid to lead the party was also scuttled by conservative opposition in 2015 when he dropped out after failing to secure enough votes and paved the way for Paul Ryan to become speaker. This time around, McCarthy’s struggle to secure sufficient votes potentially sets the stage for the first floor fight for speaker in about 100 years.
A spokesperson for McCarthy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Speaking to reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who has emerged as one of McCarthy’s more prominent opponents in the Republican caucus, criticized the leader as the “establishment.” Biggs said “somewhere around 20” of his colleagues were opposed to McCarthy’s bid for speaker.
“I would say right now he doesn’t have 218,” said Biggs, later adding, “People would fundamentally like to see us make a change.”