Updated: Jan 18
As part of TBORAF President John Pudner's radio interview tour following the recent mid-term elections, he went on WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia, to discuss the future of the House Republicans under an impending Rep. Kevin McCarthy speakership, including how he will have to maneuver and lead in order to not only keep Republicans together, but continue to grow the majority.
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The following transcript from this interview is presented in its entirety with minor edits:
McCarthy, Speaker, Republicans, Majority Leader, House, win, discipline, electability.
John Pudner and Ron Potesta.
Ron Potesta 00:00
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy won the Republican's designation for House Speaker. The vote was officially 188 to 31. The 31 votes were picked up by Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona. Now, McCarthy is in all likelihood going to be named the Speaker of the House, but the million dollar question once Congress convenes in January, and the Speaker of the House is determined, are the 31 Republicans who voted for Biggs going to fall in line and vote for McCarthy or are they going to vote for someone else? Joining me on the line to talk about this is the president of the Take Back Action Fund, John Pudner. Good morning, John.
John Pudner 00:54
Good morning. Thanks for having me on.
Ron Potesta 00:57
John, you're the only person in US history to run a campaign defeating a majority leader in a primary. Let me ask you, Kevin McCarthy, he wins 188 to 31. How concerned should the Minority Leader be about the 31 votes when the brand new Congress convenes in January?
John Pudner 01:22
I think he probably feels pretty confident on being Speaker, but there's a lot of negotiating between here or there, and does he get pushed into appointing some people as chair that he's less comfortable with? I mean, those are the kinds of things that would make him uneasy. He probably wouldn't mind seeing these last four California congressional districts break Republican too to just give a little bit of breathing room with a few more friends from his own state, but I don't think anyone's really doubting he'll be Speaker, but definitely still an uncomfortable position.
Ron Potesta 01:54
At the end of the day, Republicans are going to be anywhere from 220-24, probably closer to 220, but it is a majority. And the Republicans, while some are groaning that the majority isn't enough, John, the majority is the majority, they have control of the House of Representatives, and that's the bottom line.
John Pudner 02:19
Yeah, I'm not denying it was certainly a good night for Democrats, especially with what was expected, but I thought one of the cutest comments at night was, "When has anyone celebrated losing the House as a great night?" So, you know, that is the bottom line, I mean, 218 is the number, and, 220 or something would be better, but they do have control of the body now.
Ron Potesta 02:44
Now, taking back the votes, John, it was representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, who's a little further to the right, more of a conservative element in the House Republican conference, he was able to get the 31 votes now. He and some other constituents, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. These three more of the hardcore conservatives, are they the ones that are going to worry A person like McCarthy, who is not nearly as conservative as the three that I mentioned?
John Pudner 03:28
Yeah, the surprising part was Marjorie Taylor Greene not causing trouble out of those three you mentioned, so yeah, it was a bit of a surprise. Who would have thought maybe she would be leading binging on an alternative. But yeah, I think it's more just.. does he have a couple of chairs he thinks will say things he's uncomfortable with, or do things he's uncomfortable with, that he has to appoint as part of a deal just to shore up the votes? Those are the kinds of things that can make him uneasy. It also becomes awfully tough to discipline a member that you think is out of line when you're hanging on by, you know, one vote. Sometimes the Speaker has to be tough and say, "Hey, you have to stop doing this", to a member, and that gets a lot tougher as far as internal discipline that could be good or bad, depending on your perspective.
Ron Potesta 04:17
John Pudner, my guest. John, if you had the ear of the soon-to-be Majority Leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy, what are some of the things that you would suggest to him as the Republicans move forward the next couple of years taking over the House?
John Pudner 04:35
Well, I think you have to look at the successes. You know, it's interesting the breakthroughs for Republicans were New York and California, and I think that's partly because, if you're in a tough state like that, then you learn to fight through tough years, and you learn maybe adjustments you have to make in strategy, and looking for electability. It's funny, as thing shift over time, when I was on Bush 2000, I remember we first said, "Is there a chance we could actually win West Virginia in a presidential race? This would be something!" , At the time, your state was one that looks really tough unless it was landslide year, And of course, since then has gotten more and more Republican. So, they're shifts all over and you have to ride the good turnout but find ways to get back in the suburbs and maybe mitigate some of the losses over the last few years.
Ron Potesta 05:29
John, thank you so much for coming on board. Look forward to speaking with you soon.