With House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropping out of the race to succeed Speaker of the House John Boehner, the last of the trio of Republican Young Guns founders has faced serious political defeat.
The Young Guns was a recruitment program created in the 2007-2008 election cycle by McCarthy, who was then the Majority Whip, then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.
The Young Guns website states that the program “identifies candidates across the country who embody the principles of the House Republican Conference and show promise of running a successful campaign.” They also wrote a book together with the subheading “A New Generation of Conservative Leaders” and all three grace the cover.
Unfortunately, the 2007-2008 election cycle was a brighter time for their careers. Since the program was launched, Paul Ryan was tapped as Mitt Romney’s running mate on a losing presidential ticket. Romney and Ryan lost by a lot.
Eric Cantor had it worse, though, and Cantor is no longer even in Congress having lost his Republican primary last year to a relatively unknown Tea Party challenger. It was the first time in history that a Majority Leader had lost in a primary. It was not very Young Gun of him.
Now, as if Young Gun designation was a curse, Kevin McCarthy has suffered a serious political failure. Yesterday he surprised Washington with the announcement that he would drop out of the Speaker race before any actual voting. His recent gaffe of accidentally admitting that the political intent of the ongoing Benghazi investigation has been to hurt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign seriously harmed his political stock in the House, and recent video clips displaying his somewhat grammatically deficient speech abilities did not help earn back his House colleagues’ support.
Only Paul Ryan has a shot at Young Gun redemption, as many Republicans are calling on Ryan to now enter the race for Speaker of the House. At the moment, Ryan has not announced interest in becoming Speaker, but pressure is mounting on Ryan to commit in the hope that only he could bring the party together again.
Image via Politico/AP