As Kevin McCarthy was on the brink of losing his speakership, some of his allies delivered a not-so-veiled threat to GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina: If you vote to oust McCarthy, the party might not be willing to help raise money for your race.
The warning to Mace, which was described by a source familiar with the conversation, is a sign of just how seriously the speaker drama has rankled the Republican party, with money often used as a powerful carrot – or stick – in Washington.
Yet Mace, a Republican who could face a competitive race and will need a well-funded campaign war chest to win reelection, ultimately joined seven other GOP lawmakers and all Democrats to sink McCarthy. And it’s not the only repercussion she could now be facing for her career-defining moment of defiance: Sources told CNN that there’s discussion among members on the Republican Governance Group about voting to kick her out of the moderate-leaning group.
It’s just one of many examples of the fallout from Tuesday’s stunning vote to remove the sitting speaker, which has reverberated through both sides of the Capitol and left a bitterly divided GOP scrambling to pick up the pieces. Much of the furor is directed at Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, the ringleader of the McCarthy rebellion. But Republicans are also turning their fire on their Democratic colleagues as well, furious that they sided with Gaetz to throw the House into chaos and let McCarthy be punished for funding the government with their votes.
And it all comes as a GOP leadership scramble to succeed McCarthy has begun to take shape, even as rank-and-file Republicans warn the speaker candidates that there is ample work that must be done to repair the frayed relations within their badly divided conference.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a North Dakota Republican and a close McCarthy ally, said there are a “lot of raw nerves” and that the next speaker candidates must make clear that they will “never” allow a single GOP member to oust a sitting speaker again.
“The next speaker better figure out how to negotiate with the exotics before you become speaker because you’re sure as hell gonna have to do it after you’re speaker,” Armstrong said.
“This isn’t a normal election,” he said of the speaker’s race. “And I think too many people are treating it like one.”
The high-stakes drama has not only sparked threats to remove GOP colleagues from the conference but also put key bipartisan working relationships in jeopardy ahead of another looming government funding deadline and prompted serious internal conversations about overhauling the House rules, further complicating any candidates’ bid to win the gavel.
“There was a meeting last night, as you may know, of Republicans and that room would have devolved into I think physical attacks on one another if people stayed in there for a long period of time,” said Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, a McCarthy ally. “People are mad … It is justified for them to be frustrated by what happened yesterday.”