Kevin McCarthy Dropped His Speaker Bid. Here’s What That Means for Texas Politics

In a shocking move, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy abandons the race to succeed Speaker John Boehner. How does that affect the Texas GOP delegation?

By Rhonda FanningOctober 9, 2015 11:38 am

The top political story Friday? The mayhem on Capitol Hill.

Kevin McCarthy’s decision to drop out of the House Speaker’s race Thursday evening left a vacuum – and some jockeying for position in a party split over direction.

The biggest GOP delegation in the House is the Texas Delegation. U.S. Congressman Michael Burgess represents the North Texas 26th district he says Thursday’s news was startling: “[It] wasn’t what we all expected going into our vote, our conference for the next speaker.”

The last time something like this happened in Congress was December 1998. Burgess says back then, he was “a regular guy trying to earn a living.”

“I remember watching TV that Saturday morning when Bob Livingston, who was the speaker designate, went to the floor of the House and said ‘It’s not going to be me,'” he says. “And the rather quick coalescing around the chief deputy whip at the time who was Dennis Hastert – who was, after all, a compromised position because you had a couple of other very powerful people.”

A couple of whom were from Texas. The compromise ended up being the deputy whip, who turned out to be the longest serving Republican speaker, Burgess says.

Back to today’s bid for Speaker: Burgess says the Texas GOP delegation tends to be tougher on most things like this. He says there’s some discussion whether there’s a Texas member to coalesce around.

“The Texas delegation is the largest Republican delegation in the Congress,” Burgess says. “Perhaps, if one thing has changed that equation, it is the discussion around Paul Ryan. I don’t know if he is seriously reconsidering it, I keep seeing tweets that would indicate that he has or he hasn’t so that story has been yet to be told. I think the respect that Paul Ryan has within the Congress is one that the Texas Delegation would take seriously.”

Burgess says it’s hard to predict whether the Texas delegation will stay united. “It’s always a little difficult to predict that we will all stay together throughout every twist and turn of this story,” he says. “But, in general, Texas does look for reasons to stay together.”

Burgess says one of the big questions is what opportunities for Texas politicians will come out of McCarthy’s withdrawal. “But at the end of the day, this isn’t about the delegation or the individual members, this is about the people of the United States,” he says. “Sometimes we get too internally introspective up here in where we are going. But the bigger question is what is happening on behalf of the country.”