McCarthy Continues Drive to Defeat GOP Detractors Before Speaker Bid

McCarthy Continues Drive to Defeat GOP Detractors Before Speaker Bid house minority leader kevin mccarthy speaking during a press briefing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Getty Images)

By Brian Freeman | Monday, 12 September 2022 10:38 AM EDT

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's allies have helped defeat his potential detractors in Republican primaries nationwide, with the New Hampshire GOP vote Tuesday offering the final chance to wipe out dissenters who might derail his speakership bid next year, Politico reported on Monday.

Conservative rivals of McCarthy are furious over what they allege is a leadership-backed campaign to help the California Republican obtain the House's top role next year after a possible GOP takeover.

Outside spending in New Hampshire's Republican House primaries on behalf of Matt Mowers and Keene Mayor George Hansel has angered the other GOP contenders.

"This is coming from McCarthy," said Bob Burns, who is challenging Hansel in the Republican primary to take on Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster.

"He's dead to me at this point. I'm not going to support him," Burns said, adding that "quite frankly, if it boils down to it, I may run against him."

The race in New Hampshire to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas became particularly heated after the McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund backed Mowers over his top competitor, Karoline Leavitt, a Generation Z former Donald Trump communications official, according to Politico.

Leavitt, when asked if she would vote for McCarthy, said: "I am the only candidate in this race that the establishment is viciously attacking. They're spending millions and millions of dollars to slow down my momentum. I'm not beholden to anyone in D.C."

Several groups in the past few months have spent millions to defeat some of McCarthy's biggest detractors in primaries from Virginia to Texas to Florida, and he has moved to win over some skeptical candidates who won Republican nominations.

This means that only a handful of Republican nominees have said they will oppose a McCarthy run for speaker, making it easier for him to take on the role if the GOP wins control of the House.

Perhaps the best example of McCarthy successfully winning over detractors to his side was Ohio's J.R. Majewski, a Trump supporter.

Majewski said in late April that he believed McCarthy "did, in fact, conspire" with Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the anti-Trump congresswoman, declaring that "he and his minions can no longer be trusted," according to Politico.

Majewski vowed to do everything in his power to stop "the establishment" and "the insiders" from gaining the speakership, saying he would instead back "constitutional warriors" like Rep. Paul Gosar.

But just a few months later, McCarthy joined Majewski in Ohio to aid his campaign against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, and Majewski praised McCarthy as "a great leader and partner in my race."

Majewski told Politico that "McCarthy came to Ohio to campaign with me and I am grateful for it. He is working hard to win the majority and put a check on the reckless Biden/Kaptur agenda. That is exactly what our party needs."

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