Well, my first prediction of the year came true, even though I had serious doubts. Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker on the 15th ballot. I expected the vote to get ugly but was surprised how ugly it got. By the time McCarthy won, the GOP tensions had reached the boiling point and a fist fight almost broke out on the House floor. It was grand political theater.
North Carolinians played supporting roles throughout the drama. As I wrote on Friday, Representative Patrick McHenry led much of the negotiations with the rebel factions. CSPAN cameras tracked him throughout the proceedings, often showing him huddled with one or two of the holdouts. He’s played smart politics. It will be interesting to see how he fares in this Congress.
Another North Carolinian, my old opponent, Richard Hudson got his moment in the spotlight. After rebel leader and all-round grifter Matt Gaetz doubled-crossed McCarthy on the 14th vote, Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers lunged toward the Florida Congressman as if he were going to hit him. Hudson grabbed Rogers, pulling him away and preventing a physical altercation.
And while Mark Meadows isn’t in Congress anymore, he apparently was involved in the revolt. Meadows now has a gig with a new MAGA think tank that has an office a few blocks from the Capitol. The House rebels met regularly in his office throughout the Speaker election. While Meadows says the uprising was “member-led,” but his former House colleagues believe he exerts influence over the group. That doesn’t say much about the brainpower of the rebels.
North Carolina seems to be front and center in politics all the time. From our highly competitive elections to our endless gerrymandering court cases to the notable Members of Congress who range from the absurd (think Madison Cawthorn) to the serious (think Patrick McHenry), the state stays in the national news. It’s really no surprise North Carolinians were front and center in the Speaker debacle.