House Democrats like Reps. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster joined with eight MAGA Republicans to remove Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from his job on Wednesday, the first successful vote to vacate the speaker’s chair in U.S. history.
Led by Republican Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the 216-210 vote leaves the House of Representatives without a speaker and Democrats facing the real possibility that a more far-right member may soon hold the gavel.
The eight Republicans who joined the 208 Democrats to oust McCarthy all come from deep-red districts in states like Montana, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and they may have the support of their Republican constituents. But in purple New Hampshire, where the GOP has lost every federal election since 2014, local Republicans aren’t fans of the move. Many told NHJournal they fear the disorder on the House floor will hurt their brand in the Granite State even more.
“Stupid. Pathetic. Hopeless. Utterly embarrassing.” That’s how New Hampshire GOP strategist Michael Dennehy described the vote.
“An embarrassing mess,” echoed Republican communications professional Alicia Xanthopoulos.
State Senate President Jeb Bradley, who served in Congress from 2003 to 2007, called Gaetz’s behavior “reprehensible.”
“This is a very sad day for America,” Bradley said. “Matt Gaetz and the seven Republicans who voted with him care more about themselves than they do their country.”
Gaetz was the focus of Granite State GOP anger from activists like former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who hosts the popular “No B.S. BBQ” events for GOP presidential candidates.
“Gaetz is a d*ck,” Brown told NHJournal. “This is exactly what the Democrats want. They’ll probably put him in charge, and then they can just rail on the Republicans for the rest of the term and blame the dysfunction on the GOP.”
And Gov. Chris Sununu quipped, “I don’t think Matt Gaetz likes Matt Gaetz.”
The Republican Party’s problems don’t end there. House businesses ended for the week with the vote to vacate the speaker’s chair, even as the clock is ticking on the stopgap measure to prevent a government shutdown. House Republicans are scheduled to hold a candidate forum next Tuesday and elect a speaker on Wednesday. Unless a solid consensus candidate emerges, it could be another painful process like the 15-vote marathon it took to elect McCarthy last January.
“Republicans weren’t put in charge by the people to do this crap,” Brown said. “McCarthy did the right thing by finding a way to keep the government open and continue to work on our very real problems.”
Nashua native and GOP strategist Matthew Bartlett said voters aren’t dumb. “So it’s hard to see who benefits from such a dumb day in Washington, D.C. But the ramifications of today will reverberate in New Hampshire from the presidential primary to the ballot box in November 2024.”
Another source of frustration is that the D.C. drama has overshadowed a series of recent polls showing voters trust Republicans far more than Democrats on the economy and national security. A new Gallup poll released the same morning as the motion to vacate found that 53 percent of Americans believe the Republican Party would do a better job of keeping the country prosperous. Just 39 percent chose the Democratic Party.
On protecting America from international terrorism and military threats, the GOP had a 57 to 35 percent advantage.
Even former president Donald Trump, never one to avoid a political brawl, appeared to question the strategy.
“Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves, why aren’t they fighting the Radical Left Democrats who are destroying our Country?” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
Bradley said he believes the GOP will get past this turmoil and build support from voters dissatisfied with Democratic policies.
“This isn’t what voters care about. They care about crime, about border security, about inflation, and the cost of living. These problems aren’t going away, and the voters still want solutions.”