Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the chairman of the House’s Conservative Opportunity Society, endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) for Speaker of the House on Wednesday evening.
King wrote in an email to his House GOP colleagues, obtained by Breitbart News, on Wednesday evening:
I have listened carefully to each of the candidates for Speaker in multiple forums and watched each of them closely over the years. I have concluded it was the right thing for me to nominate Daniel Webster for Speaker last January and it’s the right thing to support him again for Speaker. I believe he will bring a principled, member-driven approach and transform the culture of the House. Daniel has a proven track record as Speaker of the Florida House and an excellent record opposing amnesty. He is strongly pro-life, pro-marriage and pro Constitution. I hope you will join me in support of Dan for Speaker. Don’t forget he has an excellent political name.
Webster is the former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and now has widespread support in the House GOP conference. With King’s backing and the backing of the House Freedom Caucus, among other Republicans conference-wide, Webster has a real shot at giving House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) a run for his money in the Oct. 29 House speakership elections on the floor of the House.
On Thursday, behind closed doors in the GOP conference meeting, the House GOP conference is expected to officially nominate McCarthy as the official candidate for Speaker in the Oct. 29 election. To win that nomination, McCarthy needs just 125 votes—which would constitute 50 percent of the House GOP conference plus one vote. Getting to 218—what it takes to take that nomination into a successful bid for the House Speakership—is a whole different story, and McCarthy is having serious issues wrapping up enough Republican support to get there.
Since there are 247 GOP members, that means that to get to 218, a candidate can only afford to lose 29 members. The House Freedom Caucus has well more than 30 members, and other members like King and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) throwing their weight behind Webster in the election sets up a showdown in which McCarthy seems extraordinarily unlikely to be able to coalesce 218 Republicans behind him. As many as 80 members right now, some congressional sources say—potentially more—may vote for Webster over McCarthy on the House floor.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and a third candidate alongside Webster for Speaker, told reporters on Tuesday evening that if he doesn’t get nominated by the conference he will back whoever the nominee is. That person is likely to be McCarthy.
“I’ve said very clearly that I plan to endorse and support the nominee,” Chaffetz said when Breitbart News asked him if he will be running in the Oct. 29 election depending on what happens on Thursday. “I’m trying to be that nominee but if I fall short I will endorse whoever that nominee is.”
Chaffetz, Webster, and McCarthy each spoke to and took questions from conservatives from King’s Conservative Opportunity Society, the Freedom Caucus, the House Liberty Caucus, and the House Tea Party Caucus on Tuesday evening. Several of the members who spoke afterward spoke highly of Webster, and sources close to several of the members say they are now convinced Webster is the right option for the Speakership. King backed Webster when he ran against outgoing House Speaker John Boehner at the beginning of this Congress, helping convince Webster to run and championing his candidacy to 12 votes against Boehner on the floor of the House in January.