Watch coverage of the eight House Republicans who voted to expel former Speaker Kevin McCarthy on CNN's “Inside Politics Sunday with Manu Raju” at 11 a.m. ET.
Donors no longer want to donate to their campaigns. The main opponents are lining up to defeat them. And some of them are former contacts from the Capitol caucus.
The eight House Republicans who took the unprecedented step of removing Kevin McCarthy as speaker are facing headwinds both in Washington and at home. It's a sign that, four months after the historic move, emotions are still raw within a Republican conference still in turmoil over McCarthy's ouster.
Representatives Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Bob Good of Virginia have arguably come under the most fire, with both congressmen facing serious primary threats as they prepare for re-election. confronting. And Rep. Matt Rosendale, who recently jumped into the Montana Senate race, is facing headwinds in Republican circles, in part because of his vote to support Mr. McCarthy, and Republican leaders say There are concerns that he will lose an important seat.
A well-connected outside Republican spending group is expected to enter the race between Mr. Good and Mr. Mace, according to several Republican officials familiar with the matter, and Mr. McCarthy himself is widely expected to be involved as well. There is.
Meanwhile, two center-right groups on Capitol Hill, the Main Street Caucus and the Republican Governance Group, have both quietly removed Mace from their ranks, people told CNN. Neither move has been made public, but sources say dissatisfaction with the congressman had been building in the months leading up to the vote for McCarthy.
“She really wants to be part of the caucus. So we obliged her,” one House Republican told CNN.
Mace and Good both downplayed the threats and said they have no regrets about their votes. They also lean toward an image of being Washington outsiders, which they believe will mesh well with the Republican base in their respective districts.
“I'm too busy working for the Lowcountry and helping elect President Trump to worry about Kevin McCarthy's puppet,” Mace said of one of his primary opponents. “The D.C. swamp doesn’t want me to come back. It’s a shame. I’m not working for them, I’m working for the people of the 1st Congressional District. No one else.”
Notably, Goode still enjoys the support of his colleagues in the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, where he was recently promoted to speaker. However, as CNN previously reported, his controversial actions, including his decision to endorse Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over former President Donald Trump as presidential candidate, still unsettle some within the group. There is.
Mr. Good said he was not concerned about the impact of a vote for Mr. McCarthy.
“I think he should bring Mr. McCarthy to campaign in the district,” Good said of his biggest opponent.
Good and Mace aren't the only targets. Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett told CNN that some “very wealthy people” closed their wallets to him after his vote.
“They have been very kind to me so far. I hope they can repair the fence,” Burchett said. “I can bring them back to their base. But even if I don't, I remain friends with them. I have no desire for revenge.”
At least one Republican opponent had considered challenging Burchett, but ultimately decided not to do so last week. Still, Burchett, who said he was “heartbroken” by initially endorsing McCarthy in January 2023, could face a McCarthy-fueled opponent in the August primary. admitted that there is.
“He's got to do something with the $17 million he has, so the eight of us are probably going to bear the brunt of that,” Burchett said of McCarthy, who left Congress late last year. he said. “I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew there would be pushback for it. I still think it's the right thing to do.”
Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, a former Freedom Caucus chairman, also told CNN that he has experienced some backlash, including being snubbed by some Republican donors.
But Biggs said the lawmakers, who came to be known as the “Gates Eight” after Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz was the leader, made the critical decision to oust McCarthy midway through the session. Afterward, he said he was ready to take on the target. session.
“We knew it was a risk,” Biggs told CNN. “But I'm going to do everything I can to help Bob and Nancy. As you know, Nancy and I don't see eye to eye very much. But on other issues we agree. . And I think she's trying to represent her constituents.”
The eight became the Persona Non Grata of the Capitol, now united and sworn to protect each other. There are also signs that the current Republican leadership, led by Speaker Mike Johnson, supports it.
“McCarthy couldn't beat us in Washington, D.C., his home base with all the King's horses and all the King's men,” Gaetz told CNN. “Does he think he can beat us in an away game?”
But while Gaez saw a big jump in fundraising in the final quarter of last year, raising $1.8 million from $770,000 in the previous quarter, the rest of the group took a hit. Rosendale posted his lowest numbers of the year in the final quarter, when he collected just $98,000.
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Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina speaks with reporters outside the U.S. Capitol on November 1, 2023.
Behind the scenes, Mr. McCarthy's allies are secretly pursuing an electoral vendetta against Gates Eight and trying to identify potential primary opponents.
Brian O. Walsh, a Republican political consultant and ally of Mr. McCarthy, is leading the effort to recruit potential challengers, according to a Republican official familiar with the matter. Politico first reported Walsh's involvement.
Although Mr. McCarthy himself has not yet been directly involved, several Republicans are hopeful that the former chairman, who is still connected to a network of wealthy donors, will bring strong resources to Mr. Mace and Mr. Goode. There is.
“If I were one of those people, the thing that would scare me more than anything would be McCarthy losing his freedom,” one Republican lawmaker told CNN. “This guy is the most prolific fundraiser and there are big donors all over the country who are angry about what's going on. And then there are the dumbasses who caused it.”
Among the most likely candidates are attorney and businesswoman Katherine Templeton, who recently announced her candidacy against Mr. Mace, and state Rep. John McGuire, a Navy SEAL who is challenging Mr. Goode. But sources close to both men said they had not met Mr McCarthy and insisted he was in the race for other reasons.
Still, there is interest in McCarthy's world in helping them succeed, and Jeff Miller, a longtime McCarthy friend and advisor, has donated to McGuire's campaign, people familiar with the effort said. .
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, an ally of Mr. McCarthy, has also formally endorsed Mr. McGuire and Mr. Rosendale's opponent in the Montana Senate primary, Tim Sheehy.
Asked whether he was worried that McCarthy or his supporters would come after him, Rosendale told CNN: “I'm not worried about people coming from California to campaign in Montana.” told.
However, there are cases where recruitment efforts have not been very successful. Some of Mr. McCarthy's associates have asked whether Mark Lamb, who is running for the Arizona Senate, intends to run against Congressman Eli Crane, a member of Gates Eight. But Mr. Lamb is close to Mr. Crane and Mr. Gaetz and has no interest in running against Mr. Crane, according to a Republican official familiar with the situation.
Klain told CNN he hasn't seen any backlash from Arizona voters, saying, “My voters are very supportive.”
But while he said he relies primarily on small donors to build his campaign, he also said he was losing donors to his vote.
“Yeah, it's definitely a reality,” Crane told CNN about losing the donor. “And I think anyone who was a part of it knew what was coming.”
But Crane said he has no regrets. “I didn’t come here to play it safe or be a committee chair,” the freshman Republican said. “I came here to make a difference. Sometimes that means the runway is a little shorter and we might have to go home. But we are here now, people with courage. We need you.”
Efforts are also underway to find veterans to run against Gaetz in Florida, which has a large military population, but no interested candidates have yet emerged, the people said. Additionally, McCarthy's camp sees Gaetz as more difficult to defeat.
But Mr. Mace has made other controversial moves and has undergone significant personnel changes in recent months, making him seen as easy to topple. Sources close to the former speaker said Mr. McCarthy, who spent millions to help Mr. Mace get elected, was particularly angry that House members voted to remove him from office.
Mr. McCarthy has left the door open to supporting a primary challenger to Gates Eight and has spoken highly of Mr. McGuire in public. In an interview with CNN after his ouster, Mr. McCarthy blamed his opponents, said there needed to be “consequences” and argued that Mr. Mace did not deserve re-election. He echoed similar thoughts to reporters at President Trump's Nevada caucus watch party in Las Vegas last week.
“If you've only seen her philosophy and her flip side, it's hard to believe she'll get re-elected,” McCarthy told CNN. “I think she probably hasn't earned her right to re-election.”
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Republican Rep. Bob Good of Virginia gives a television interview in Washington, D.C., May 30, 2023.
But Mr Johnson has shown no animosity towards the McCarthy rebels and is expected to support his re-election bid. The Tennessee Republican said the speaker also held a fundraiser for Burchett in his own district on Friday amid growing support in the state.
Republicans believe part of Mr. Johnson's strategy is rooted in membership control. Not only does Johnson want to heal the wounds within the conference, but by providing valuable information to these members, he could potentially help prevent their actions.
To that end, Mr. Johnson announced last week that he would donate to Mr. Rosendale's Senate campaign, but has not given any support after facing backlash to his original plan. Notably, Mr. Rosendale supported the pro-Israel measure on the floor last week, despite opposition from other members of the Freedom Caucus who argued that the cost had not been paid.
Greg Steele, communications director for Mr Johnson's political team, said: “The Speaker has promised to send donations to Rosendale, as have other members of Congress and friends, but he has not given any support in the Senate race.'' ” he said.
Meanwhile, the House Republican campaign arm is taking steps to protect conference members. Gates Eight is no exception.
“We are an incumbent-led organization and support all calls by House Republican incumbents,” a spokesperson for the National Republican Campaign Committee said.
CNN's David Wright, Sam Fossum and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.