Kevin McCarthy Seeks Retribution: Unleashed and Unbound

Exploring Kevin McCarthy's dynamic post-speakership activities

by Zain ul Abedin
Kevin McCarthy Seeks Retribution: Unleashed and Unbound
© Win McNamee/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is making waves post-speakership, engaging in activities that underscore his ongoing influence and strategic acumen within political circles. Now a free agent, McCarthy is commanding six-figure sums for speeches, gracing TV screens as a pundit, and lending his voice to esteemed political forums across the nation.

Yet beneath this busy itinerary lies a more profound motive - retribution. The former House Speaker's abrupt exit in late 2023 marked a historic moment, as he became the first sitting leader ousted by a House vote, with support from eight Republicans and 208 Democrats.

This coalition prompted McCarthy to leave office rather than cling to power. His response to this perceived betrayal is meticulous and calculated: he is actively undermining the re-election efforts of his Republican detractors, including Bob Good of Virginia, Eli Crane of Arizona, and Nancy Mace of South Carolina, by channeling funds and resources to their primary opponents.

Central to McCarthy's target list is Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a key figure in his removal. Gaetz, known for his fiery rhetoric, may not be at risk of losing his House seat but has aspirations for Florida's governorship in 2026.

McCarthy's criticisms of Gaetz reached new heights during a recent talk at Georgetown University, where he insinuated that Gaetz's opposition was motivated by personal legal troubles involving ethical misconduct. This sharp accusation stems from allegations that had once placed Gaetz under federal scrutiny, though charges were never filed.

The continuation of these probes by the House Ethics Committee adds a layer of tension to Gaetz's political career, with McCarthy keenly observing from the sidelines.

McCarthy's Strategic Pivot

In the aftermath of his speakership, McCarthy seems unshackled, free from the burdens of managing a narrow Republican majority and more engaged in what he knows best: political campaigns.

His influence remains potent, maintaining strong connections with the lawmakers he helped elect and a robust donor network he cultivated over his years as a top GOP strategist. Despite his controversial exit, McCarthy's recent appearances, like the seminar at Georgetown, display his charisma and political savvy.

He openly supported U.S. aid for Ukraine, acknowledged Joe Biden's legitimate election victory, and distanced himself from the more extreme positions of some Republicans, including former President Trump. Yet, it's clear that McCarthy's main focus lies beyond mere speech-making or public discourse.

His primary aim this election season is not just maintaining Republican control of the House but ensuring a victory for GOP candidates he deems loyal and suitable. His activities may not lean towards lobbying, as some might expect given his connections, but rather towards a strategic, hands-on involvement in campaign management and electoral strategy, driven partially by a desire for retribution.