As House Republicans and those just elected to the House ponder the now-very-real possibility of a majority in their chamber, the immediate question before them is whether Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., should now assume the speaker's gavel.
With Republicans scheduled to meet behind closed doors Tuesday and select a speaker-designate, McCarthy remains the favorite for winning the support of the GOP Conference in the House.
And for good reason.
Michigan Rep. John Moolenaar spoke for scores of GOP colleagues when he told Newsmax on Monday morning, "Kevin is the best choice to lead our Conference in fulfilling our 'Commitment to America.'"
The Commitment for America was the McCarthy-inspired, conservative manifesto on which Republican House candidates ran.
Some are already voicing doubts and raising the specter that McCarthy is incapable of getting what is called "the magic 218" — a majority of the 435 member House required to elect the speaker and determine control of the House when Congress convenes Jan. 3.
But they are forgetting the real question: If not McCarthy, then who?
After interviewing dozens of House members there is no one I could find who could both unite all wings of the party at the same time keeping former President Trump's strong support.
Except for Kevin McCarthy.
Their complaints stem from McCarthy not being forcefully conservative enough to his failure to see that the "red wave" many predicted for Nov. 8.
The truth is that issue after issue McCarthy has been a strong conservative.
And he has been one of Donald Trump's strongest supporters in the House.
An adviser to Donald Trump reminded me that he will never forget that just days after Biden was inaugurated and the former president found himself exiled to Mar-a-Lago, he was written off by the establishment GOP and the Washington swamp.
Still, McCarthy got on a plane, went to Florida and stood with Trump.
Today, the current count on undecided races indicate that Republicans will eventually end up with around 220 seats. With near full support, the GOP Conference's pick can get to the necessary 218 votes.
"All I'll say at the moment is McCarthy doesn't have 218, and there will be an alternative challenger," Matthew Tragesser, a spokesman for Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, told reporters Monday morning.
Biggs, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is seriously pondering a bid for speaker.
Other Capitol Hill sources told Newsmax that Biggs is actually a "stalking horse" for Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who, they say, would be a stronger opponent to McCarthy.
Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff and a close ally of Jordan's, has led 60 other conservatives to sign a letter calling for the leadership elections in the House and Senate to be postponed until after the special Senate runoff in Georgia on Dec. 6.
Some conservatives outside Congress have also weighed in against McCarthy. But they are few and far between.
Leading voices in conservative media like Mark Levin and Sean Hannity are backing McCarthy.
McCarthy's Majority Committee Political Action Committee gave $25 million to help Republicans in tight races, including California Reps. Michelle Steel and Tom McClintock.
Steel and McClintock, both conservative stalwarts, told Newsmax that McCarthy was especially hard-working in electing new members from their state and that all of the Golden State GOP delegation would support their "favorite son" for Speaker.
And reelected New York Reps. Claudia Tenney and Nicole Malliotakis have already sent out signs they are for McCarthy for speaker.
Of course, the Californian has the strong public endorsement of Donald Trump, still the most popular figure in the Republican Party.
It is becoming increasingly clear 2022 was a good year for incumbents overall, and that the GOP had misread the electorate.
With a relatively strong economy, a growing GDP last quarter, and very low unemployment, the public was not willing to make a major change in Washington.
Make no mistake about it, the next two years will be critical for the nation and the GOP.
McCarthy is the best man to lead the House during this time.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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