Updated Sep 19, 2023, 6:37am EDT

McCarthy foes eye higher office

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The News

Several of the House Republicans currently blocking their party from passing a budget deal may have their eye on higher office — and that’s causing some gripes among their colleagues.

On Monday, NBC reported on widespread speculation that Rep. Matt Gaetz could run for governor of Florida. He called the article “overblown clickbait,” but pointedly said “dozens” of former colleagues had “relentlessly” encouraged him.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Bishop announced he won’t seek reelection and instead is running to be North Carolina’s attorney general in 2024. Rep. Matt Rosendale is already racking up endorsements for a not-yet-official Senate run in Montana. And Rep. Ralph Norman is openly considering a Senate run against South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2026.

All four were key holdouts during the speaker’s race, and this week opposed a temporary funding proposal aimed at avoiding a government shutdown brokered by representatives of the Main Street Caucus and the Freedom Caucus. Some colleagues are now questioning their motives.

“Whether it’s running for another office, to retweets for the $5 donations, yes, these people are incentivized to try to put themselves in the limelight for their unreasonable policy preferences,” one House Republican lawmaker told Semafor, adding that their “lack of sincerity” has been the subject of conference-wide chatter.


“I mean, this is literally what babies do,” the lawmaker added. “Babies cry and scream so they get more attention.”

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Kadia’s view

McCarthy recently told reporters that he wasn’t sure what conservative critics of the party’s budget proposal actually want. The answer might be a promotion outside Washington — and that makes his life complicated. After all, it’s hard to manage members who have nothing to lose and everything to gain by being a thorn in the side of leadership.

Washington has also seen this movie before: In 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas was often accused of spearheading a government shutdown in order to pave the way for a presidential run.

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y. wouldn’t speculate on the group’s motivations, but had some choice words in general. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a clown show,” he said. “They don’t care what happens as long as they somehow, you know, look good in the process.”

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Room for Disagreement

Not everyone thinks the budget holdouts have ulterior motives. “I think they’ve been consistent with what they’ve said all along, [which] is that they wanted a 2019 spending level and obviously this doesn’t do that,” Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla. told Semafor. “So I think they’ve been steadfast in what they’ve said they’ve wanted.”