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Semafor LogoBenjy Sarlin
Benjy Sarlin
politics

A trolling Matt Gaetz ruined Kevin McCarthy's speaker bid at the last second

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Kevin McCarthy and his allies confidently predicted he would be elected Speaker of the House Friday night, but stubborn opposition and a late vote from his gleeful nemesis Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. denied him the nomination for a fourteenth time.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. earned wild applause when she voted “present”for the first time, helping lower the threshold for a McCarthy win — just as his team had hoped would happen.

They did the same for Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, who had flown back from tending to his wife and newborn premature baby in order to attend the crucial vote, and Ken Buck, R-Colo., who had rushed back from Colorado after undergoing a medical procedure.

But four holdouts, including a freshman from Arizona, Eli Crane, voted for other candidates. Then, after deliberately skipping his initial vote, Gaetz waited to the end of the roll call to vote “present” — leaving McCarthy one vote short.

Pandemonium ensued. An enraged Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala. had to be physically restrained as he charged to confront Gaetz with the C-SPAN cameras rolling.

Afterwards, a stunned Rep. Patrick McHenry, who nominated McCarthy and was seen animatedly working Gaetz over during the vote, took to the podium afterwards to ask that the House be allowed to adjourn until Monday.

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