Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is openly plotting revenge against the Republicans who ousted him.
McCarthy was unceremoniously booted from the speakership in October when eight Republicans, led by Representative Matt Gaetz, joined all Democrats in voting to vacate the chair. McCarthy left Congress in December, shrinking his party’s already narrow majority in the chamber.
McCarthy is ready to mobilize his still-sizeable donor network to mount primary challenges—focusing on three representatives in particular. His allies believe that Representatives Nancy Mace, Bob Good, and Eli Crane are the most vulnerable right now and are looking to recruit other Republican candidates in their districts.
“These traitors chose to side with Nancy Pelosi, AOC and over 200 Democrats to undermine the institution, their fellow Republicans and a duly elected Speaker,” Walsh told Politico in a statement. “There must be consequences for that decision.”
Mace’s turning on McCarthy must be especially bitter, because she was a member of his inner circle before voting to oust him. McCarthy reportedly encouraged her former chief of staff to resign and then run for her seat.
McCarthy’s revenge plans may continue beyond this election cycle. One member of the Gaetz Eight told Politico anonymously they had heard from a potential primary challenger who turned down recruitment attempts from a McCarthy associate. So the former speaker may keep pushing in future elections.
Of course, the biggest target is still Gaetz, who introduced the motion to vacate the speaker. Recently leaked private messages from Gaetz reveal the Florida Republican wanted to oust McCarthy because of the House Ethics Committee’s renewed probe into Gaetz’s alleged payments to a minor for sex.
McCarthy has shown before that he has a vindictive streak. In November, McCarthy allegedly elbowed Representative Tim Burchett, another Gaetz Eight member, in the halls of Congress.
Burchett called McCarthy a “jerk” and accused him of having “no guts.”
“What kind of chicken move is that?” he demanded. “You’re pathetic, man, you are so pathetic.”