Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the former House Speaker who never managed to wrangle control of a divided Republican caucus, has announced his retirement months after being unceremoniously ousted from the top job.
News broke Wednesday morning with an op-ed by McCarthy in the Wall Street Journal announcing he would be departing Congress at the end of the year.
“No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing. That may seem out of fashion in Washington these days, but delivering results for the American people is still celebrated across the country. It is in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways,” he wrote, a subtle jab at critics who derided his backroom deals with Democrats at the expense of conservative values.
“I go knowing I left it all on the field—as always, with a smile on my face. And looking back, I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” he closed, a line that doesn’t square with his recent shoving of a colleague who voted for his removal as Speaker.
Speculation about McCarthy’s future had been rampant for weeks among Washington insiders who knew that the California Republican did not like the view from the back bench of his party’s caucus. He joins other former Speakers like John Boehner and Paul Ryan who once led conservative insurgencies only to exit Congress after their standings diminished amid the duties of governing.
McCarthy, who championed his ability to elect a diverse cross-section of Republicans across the country and aggressively fundraise for their reelections, touted his leadership in reducing the nation’s deficit, implementing work requirements for the unemployed, and pushing the Biden administration to expand domestic oil drilling. He hinted that his work on behalf of the GOP and its presidential nominee is not done.
“I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office. The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders,” he added.
Where he’ll fall in the grand scheme of GOP machinations remains to be seen. Former President Donald Trump has already found his congressional ally in new House Speaker Mike Johnson, a staunch conservative who didn’t waver when asked if he would endorse the president in a crowded primary.