Updated Nov 15, 2022, 4:41pm EST

Kevin McCarthy to lead House GOP again as Republicans look to move on from the midterms

Kadia is a Political Reporter for Semafor, joining us from Buzzfeed News. Sign up for the daily Principals newsletter to get our insider’s guide to American power.


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The News

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) arrives as U.S. House Republicans gather for leadership elections at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2022.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy won the nomination to lead the GOP caucus, but is still shy of the 218 votes needed to become Speaker of the House seven weeks from now, assuming Republicans take the majority.

Republicans voted 188 to 31 in favor of McCarthy. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. of the House Freedom Caucus, launched an 11th- hour bid the night before election. Members of the hardline conservative group have threatened to withhold their support for McCarthy as Speaker until he agrees to make certain concessions, including approving procedural rules that would make it easier to remove him later on.

“My position remains the same until further notice - no one has 218 (or close, as needed),” Rep Chip Roy, R-Texas said in a statement. “We have to sit down and establish the fundamental changes needed.”

McCarthy has until Jan 3 to secure the 218 votes he needs. At least one Republican member, Don Bacon of Nebraska, has floated the idea of working across the aisle to elect a Republican leader palatable to Democrats if Republicans fail to find a consensus pick themselves.


The current Republican Minority Whip Steve Scalise was unanimously elected as the next majority leader. But the most hotly contested election of the day was a three-way whip race between Reps. Tom Emmer, R-Minn. Jim Banks, R-Ind. and Drew Ferguson, R-Ga. After Ferguson came in third in the initial vote, Emmer bested Banks in a run-off 115 to 106.

As chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which oversees the party’s election efforts, Emmer was seen as a favorite for the position heading into last Tuesday’s midterms. But that was before a weak Republican showing that currently looks like it will end with a narrow House Republican majority. After the vote, at least one NRCC staffer was seen exiting the area whisper-shouting “we did it!” to a colleague.

Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. beat Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla. 144 to 74 to win reelection for the same seat in the next Congress. And Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C. was elected NRCC chair by acclamation. Hudson ran unopposed after Rep. Darrin LaHood, R-Ill. withdrew from the election.

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Kadia’s view

Donald Trump’s upcoming campaign announcement, as well as widespread criticism within the party over his role in midterm losses, loomed large over the leadership race.

House Republicans voted against Banks, who had the support of Donald Trump Jr. and was quietly being pushed by the former president’s allies. Banks had flip-flopped on a Trump endorsement first telling POLITICO earlier this year that he would support a Trump run and then declining to endorse the former president during a Fox News interview days after the midterm.

Stefanik endorsed Trump’s latest presidential run well before his announcement while Donalds denied a report that he was already planning to back Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for president.