“They haven’t been able to choose a speaker right now and I think it could work out in a number of ways. And it makes sense to be here to offer an alternative,” said Amash, who flew in from Michigan. Later on Wednesday, he went around the chamber and accompanied the journalists to the court.

But the fact that McCarthy’s bid is in such jeopardy that a former Freedom Caucus member—who felt independent—emerged to hawk about the Capitol on Wednesday points to the larger political and mathematical gymnastics the convention faces. Making do: If not McCarthy, who else can garner the all-out endorsement of the Republican convention – And Really want the job?

As one member of the GOP summarized the party’s existential dilemma: “Kevin doesn’t have the votes, but nobody has more votes than Kevin.”

This is a question with no clear answer and lots of opportunity for chaos. While Republicans acknowledge that they are privately throwing around names among themselves, there is one persistent elephant in the room – McCarthy himself – that means they will remain largely imaginary until the California Republican exits. go.

And GOP leaders aren’t looking to recuse themselves any time soon.

“I haven’t heard any [names] And I hope no one is, because that’s who he is,” said McCarthy aide Rep. chris smith (RNJ). “We’re not backing down.”

Ambitious GOP lawmakers, who shelve their own gavel dreams, know that making a move now would be seen as killing McCarthy and alienating their allies. And with no “consensus” waiting in the wings to pick up, any speaker would need to solve the same Rubik’s Cube of vote-counting that has so far proved elusive for McCarthy.

Members acknowledge that with McCarthy still in the running, it’s hard to get a clear idea of ​​another prospect who could match his fundraising prowess, among other skills.

“There are several names that are floating around but we can’t really get to that until Kevin says he’ll be floating around indefinitely,” Rep. chip roy (R-Texas), one of the Freedom Caucus members who has so far opposed McCarthy, asked Fox News’ Laura Ingraham whether he would prefer the House GOP’s No. 2, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).

If McCarthy drops out, Scalise is the most obvious fall-back option. He’s been adamant that he’s endorsing the California Republican, but he’s also in a difficult position. While he is likely the second most popular member at the convention — which has also had his eye on the gavel in the past — there can be no fingerprints on the effort to take down McCarthy, or he will earn a fierce and swift backlash from California allies. . So, he’s laying down.

Some argue that he has more conservative authenticity than McCarthy, who is still viewed suspiciously by the right wing as a legislative chameleon despite his efforts to align himself closely with former President Donald Trump. But others question whether Scalise will be any different in the eyes of conservative hardliners who oppose McCarthy.

Asked whether a potential Speaker Scalise could resolve the impasse, Jordan told reporters: “Nobody’s talking about that.”

As the GOP leader’s allies and his defectors sat together on Wednesday evening, several conservatives were openly predicting that the California Republican would be ousted. repealed. andy biggs (R-Ariz.), for example, cryptically told reporters, “I think there’s going to be a resolution.” When the House resumed at 8 p.m., he predicted they would have a completely different candidate. .

Those comments helped speed up an already active rumor mill in GOP circles. For example, in a call among Republican lobbyists on Wednesday, several raised the idea that some GOP members who have publicly supported McCarthy may be secretly waiting to rally behind Scalise. – a concept which has been dismissed as ridiculous by McCarthy supporters.

Another quickly spreading rumor among the members is that Scalise and Rep. jim jordan (R-Ohio) could potentially reach a deal in which one takes the speaker’s sleight of hand and the other becomes majority leader. But, again, others denied any possibility that this was true.

This increasingly active whisper network points to the current highly volatile nature of the GOP, which could end up being another day of speaker votes without resolution.

repealed. buddy carter (R-Ga.) also, rejected the idea that another member was invited to run for the top House position, declaring some members’ motto: “Only Kevin.” But as far as the way forward, he said he has no idea: “I don’t have the answers. seriously. The kind of situation we are in now.

While some of McCarthy’s opposition is personal, his opponents are still unwilling to embrace Scalise as an alternative. Some are privately questioning how to support Lucian, especially if he offers them the same take on McCarthy’s rules, which won’t just rearrange the deck chairs.

A McCarthy opponent told POLITICO on condition of anonymity that he would be open to talks with Scalise, but that whoever comes forward would have to roll back “structural reforms” that conservatives have been pushing for. If such demands include allowing a member to be forced to vote on impeaching a speaker, that candidate will forfeit his or her speakership before it even begins.

And some of McCarthy’s strongest supporters are warning that they do not see Scalise as an alternative if the conservatives pull the GOP leader out of the race.

repealed. don bacon (R-Neb.), who insisted he was all for McCarthy as long as he is in the race, said he saw Scalise as a Plan B, saying “a small group took us hostage. “

“I love Steve,” Bacon said. ,[But] I just don’t want to bow down to those who are holding us hostage. … They’re looking for a scalpel on Kevin.

repealed. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said he believed no Republican other than McCarthy could get the votes needed to win the speaker’s gavel. That, in his mind, also includes Scalise.

If McCarthy opts out, Fitzpatrick said the conference will have to look beyond its current roster.

“If you do all that work, mission accomplished, it will set a terrible precedent in our conference [to gain the House majority] And then get evicted at the 11th hour,” Fitzpatrick said.

A bipartisan group of centrist members has held nascent talks about trying to cut a deal that would elect more moderate Republicans in exchange for cutting a power-sharing deal with Democrats.

To boost those long-held hopes, retired Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told reporters in Michigan on Wednesday that it was an “intriguing proposal.”

But even centrists acknowledge that his threats are implausible, and that one McCarthy’s opponents consider a bluff. And Democrats insist that their members are far from endorsing McCarthy or his allies – if they ever will.

Instead, conservatives are floating their names as they cycle through their wish lists. His dream is to have Jordan, a McCarthy enemy-turned-ally and conservative hero, as speaker. But Jordan has been publicly adamant for months that he does not want to be speaker and helped nominate McCarthy this week. Plus, the liberal wing and institutionalists are already shutting down that idea.

On Wednesday, he publicly shifted his public support behind Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who previously made an unsuccessful bid for convention chairman. But McCarthy’s opponents say Donalds is unlikely to be his final pick. And they’re already floating other possible names, most notably the chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Kevin Hearn (R-Okla.), because they offer other options.

“I don’t think anything is final until we get to 218,” said Rep. bob good (R-Va.), one of McCarthy’s original opponents. “Time is on our side.”

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