When eight House Republicans broke with their party to oust Kevin McCarthy from his position as Speaker of the House, the political fallout was immediate.
Everything on the House floor has been grinded to a halt until a new speaker can be elected.
“All of our priorities, Republican or Democratic … nothing happens now until we elect the speaker and frustrate a lot of us,” Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif. told Spectrum News.
But while some of the repercussions were swift, others may take longer to grasp, including what this may mean for the Republican fight to maintain the majority in 2024, including the power behind McCarthy’s pocketbook.
Over the summer, McCarthy announced a haul of $21.7 million for House Republicans as part of his political action fund. His second quarter filing, the latest data available, shows he has more than $9 million cash on hand.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm, said McCarthy raised more than $40 million during last year’s midterm cycle. And the Congressional Leadership Fund, a McCarthy-aligned super PAC, said it raised nearly $650 million under the California Republican, including $80 million so far already this cycle and $350 million for last year’s races.
“There's no denying that McCarthy is a phenomenal fundraiser. He's done it for years and years, and probably in all honesty, a huge reason why he ultimately got the speaker's gavel,” said Casey Burgat, Assistant Professor at The George Washington University. “And so the question is, how much is the Republican party going to lose? Especially knowing that each and every race given such small majorities is going to be incredibly important to maintaining the majority.”
While candidates jockey to replace him at the speaker’s rostrum, it’s clear that in terms of fundraising, whoever replaces McCarthy will have big shoes to fill.
“No one member of congress worked harder to help me certainly get here or win the majority and ultimately work towards growing it than Kevin McCarthy,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y. in an interview with Spectrum News.
The two leading candidates to replace McCarthy, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La. and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, face a major test in terms of whether or not they can match the California Republican's fundraising prowess.
Scalise, according to the latest filing, raised $5.6 million this cycle, and has over $6 million in cash on hand. His political action fund reported nearly $900,000 cash on hand at the end of the second quarter.
Jordan, who is the chair of the powerful House Judiciary committee, has never served in House leadership, but has raised about $2.9 million this cycle and has $7.9 million on hand.
But Burgat warns that Jordan’s lack of experience in leadership could be trouble for his campaign for speaker.
“The speaker's position is about expanding, maintaining and expanding the majority in a way that Jim Jordan hasn't had to do,” said Burgat. “He's not appealing to moderates, he's appealing to the base, rallying them up. That's a very different thing and swing districts across the country that will make or break the Republicans majority come 2024.”
During his press conference Tuesday night, McCarthy took a jab at Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the Republican who brought the motion to vacate against him. “I’m sure Matt Gaetz will give the NRCC a lot of money,” he said sarcastically.
“I think it's a huge loss that he's no longer the speaker, but I still believe that Kevin has the ability to be helpful in a lot of different ways. And I expect that to continue, we'll see how that plays out,” said Valadao.
Valadao, who has received financial support for his congressional campaign from both McCarthy’s personal coffers and from the Congressional Leadership Fund under McCarthy’s tenure, says despite the loss, that he’s optimistic heading into 2024.
“I was able to win under Speaker [John] Boehner, under Speaker [Paul] Ryan, we're gonna continue to have tough races, but we're still gonna have leadership that wants to have the majority. And so we're going to focus on that [and] continue to do our work.”
But with a slim majority where every seat counts, whoever the new Speaker is will have to strategize, and quickly, how to build a stronger majority in 13 months, or face having to potentially hand over the gavel to Democrats in 2025.
Spectrum News’ Kevin Frey contributed to this report.