Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) stunned lawmakers Thursday by abruptly announcing that he was withdrawing from the race to become the next House speaker.
The California Republican, who was having trouble convincing GOP conservatives to support him, said the party needs a fresh face to take over after current Speaker John. A. Boenher steps down later this month.
Party officials cancelled plans for an Oct. 29 election to elect the next speaker.
A powerful, back-bench block of conservatives had moved against McCarthy, fearing that he would not run the House differently than out-going Speaker John. A. Boehner, who was pressured earlier this month to announce his resignation.
Late Wednesday, the influential House Freedom Caucus, which could control between 40-50 votes, threw its support to Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), one of their own members, who has little chance of broader success. The little known newcomer won 12 votes when he challenged Boehner earlier this year.
Another candidate Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who made a last-minute play to run an alternative to McCarthy, suffered a setback when his campaign was panned by the conservatives, leaving him without a base of support.
McCarthy's withdrawal leaves the House GOP in disarray.
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