BREAKING: Kevin McCarthy Officially Has a Republican Challenger for the Speakership

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Rep. Andy Biggs, Republican congressman from Arizona, has been one of the party’s most vocal critics in the weeks since the midterm elections, calling for a change in party leadership at all levels. Today, Biggs officially announced he will be challenging current minority leader Kevin McCarthy when the new Congress meets next month and elects a new Speaker of the House.


Writing today in the Daily Caller, Biggs explained his decision, saying, “We cannot let this all too rare opportunity to effectuate structural change pass us by because it is uncomfortable to challenge the Republican candidate who is a creature of the establishment status quo, or because the challenge is accompanied by some minimal risk.”

Biggs did not elaborate on how much support he has garnered in his bid for the speakership, but it’s thought he has the backing of his fellow Freedom Caucus members Matt Gaetz (FL), Bob Good (VA), Ralph Norman (SC), and Matt Rosendale (MT). Biggs’ criticism of McCarthy has resulted in a surprising backlash from some conservative commentators, including Mark Levin and Charlie Kirk. Levin went so far as to call the “Never Kevin” crowd “saboteurs” and “boneheads.”

As RedState previously reported, Biggs had some very specific policy concerns:


“… I think Americans want us to actually bring the budget under control, they wanted to secure the border, they want us to just find a way to reduce oil and gas prices, attack inflation, all of that. And you can’t do that by being a passive sideliner or sitting there acquiescing to the Biden administration or trying to get along, you’re going to have to be tough.”

This is the second time Andy Biggs has gone head-to-head with Kevin McCarthy for the speakership. Just last month, McCarthy won a 188 to 31 vote to become the Republicans’ nominee for speaker once they take control of the House in January. The full chamber will vote for the next speaker once the lawmakers assemble in early January, and McCarthy needs to pick up enough votes to get him to 218.

Here are the numbers:

221: The number of House seats Republicans will hold in the new Congress

213: The number of House seats Democrats will hold in the new Congress

218: The number of votes a candidate needs to be voted Speaker of the House

188: The number of votes Kevin McCarthy received when Republicans voted for a speaker nominee

31: The number of votes Andy Biggs received when Republicans voted for a speaker nominee


It’s unclear if Biggs still has the support of those 31 members, but he presumably has at least five votes. This puts Kevin McCarthy at a precarious 216 votes, two shy of what he needs to take possession of the Speaker’s gavel. Some fear that the five holdouts will give more moderate GOP members the chance to strike some kind of deal with Democrats that allows them to retain the speakership. All of this may just be a political ploy to force concessions from McCarthy in the new legislative session, but he only has 28 days to whip up the votes he needs.

The full House will vote for their new speaker on January 3, 2023.


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