WASHINGTON (October 8, 2015) — In a stunning move, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his candidacy for House speaker Thursday, throwing Congress' Republican leadership into chaos.
McCarthy was heavily favored to win his GOP colleagues' endorsement for the post, but a vigorous challenge from hardline House conservatives threatened a smooth ratification when the full House voted Oct. 29. It is uncertain now when that vote will occur to replace Speaker John Boehner, who is to retire at the end of the month.
McCarthy shocked his colleagues at the start of Thursday's closed meeting, telling them he was not the right person for the job. He recommended that the election be postponed and Boehner delayed it.
"There was total shock, and then total silence," said Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C.
Lawmakers were in near disbelief at the announcement, which came as Republicans began a meeting for what they thought would be the election of a new speaker nominee.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa.
Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said he was "thunderstruck."
"We don't know why he did it," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.