McCarthy's down-to-the-wire speaker bid is one for the history books – Business Insider

Eight years after abandoning his first speaker bid to sidestep a conservative rebellion, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is vowing to take the GOP leadership fight to the floor this January to finally clinch his dream job. 
The current parlor game in Washington is trying to figure out how long — Minutes? Days? Weeks? — frustrated Republican hardliners like protest candidate Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, anti-McCarthy agitator Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, and the half-dozen, concession-seeking conservatives aligned with Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania can keep the gavel out of his hand. 
Thwarting an outright victory on the first ballot would automatically bump McCarthy into the fraternity of House speakers who had more convincing to do in order to sew up their own contested candidacies. 
The question is: Can McCarthy barter his way into the ranks of those who won over skeptics after just a couple of retries? Or do his opponents have enough clout to keep McCarthy —  and by extension, the general functioning of the House of Representatives — twisting in the wind longer than the two-month wait and 132 rejections that current record holder Rep. Nathaniel Banks endured back in 1855 (he limped through on the 133 ballot). 
McCarthy’s career trajectory remains uncertain due to the narrow majority House Republicans will have in the 118th Congress. Although they flipped the chamber in November, the modest midterms win leaves House GOP leaders with a 10-seat advantage over House Democrats, but just a handful of members they can lose for a majority vote (218 in the 435-seat House). 
As former Congressional Research Service staffer Matt Glassman points out in his cheat sheet on speaker elections, the math works a little differently in leadership contests because the threshold changes if lawmakers abstain from voting or don’t name their alternative candidate. 
Which means that the anti-McCarthy bloc including Biggs, Gaetz, and Reps. Bod Good of Virginia, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, and Matt Rosendale of Montana can try to jam McCarthy by voting no, or rallying around a specific candidate like Biggs. But they would actually help McCarthy’s cause by voting “present” (that would drop the House total to 430, meaning McCarthy only needs 215 other votes to win). 
So, with five hard no’s from the Biggs contingent, seven holdouts craving procedural changes, and four dozen GOP moderates who view McCarthy as the only viable candidate, the aspiring speaker’s place in the history books could still break several different ways on January 3. 
As daunting a task as that may seem, Gaetz mused to political outlet The Hill that he’s prepared to dig in his heels though the spring.
“We may see the cherry blossoms before we have a Speaker,” the Trump-aligned Floridian said, citing DC’s seasonal spectacle.
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