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Friday, June 14, 2024

These are the six Republican rebels blocking US Speaker hopeful

Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz in a doorwayReuters

After four days of voting, Speaker of the House hopeful Kevin McCarthy has whittled his opponents down from 20 to six.

All of the remaining holdouts are members of the Freedom Caucus – the most conservative bloc of the Republican party.

If he can flip just a few of these lawmakers to his side, he will have the majority he needs to win.

But convincing these Republican rebels will not be so easy – here are the diehards standing between McCarthy and the prized gavel.

Matt Gaetz

The 40-year-old Floridian remains among the most vocal members of the anti-McCarthy holdouts.

Once considered a rising Republican star, Mr Gaetz is a loyalist to former President Donald Trump. Earlier this week, he lodged a symbolic protest vote against Mr McCarthy by nominating Mr Trump instead for House Speaker.

Some of Mr Gaetz’s hostility to Mr McCarthy may stem from a feeling that he did not receive adequate political support when he was the subject of a sex-trafficking investigation, which was dropped last year.

Bob Good

Bob Good, 57, of Virginia, was first elected to Congress in 2020 after running a campaign railing against “socialism” and warning that religious liberties were “under assault”.

Mr Good has said there is “no possibility” he will vote for Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker.

Lauren Boebert

Representative Lauren Boebert, Colorado’s right-wing firebrand, just barely made it back for her second term in Congress, eking out a victory by less than 600 votes over a moderate Democrat challenger.

In her first two years, she rose to fame by picking frequent fights with her Democratic colleagues and promoting unproven claims of mass election fraud.

A staunch defender of gun rights, the 36-year-old vowed to bring her pistol to the Capitol in an ad before she was sworn in for her first term.

Eli Crane

Eli Crane flipped a Democratic-held Arizona seat in 2022, helping Republicans recapture the House.

On his campaign website, he describes himself as “a faith-oriented, family man”, who is ” unafraid to take a stand against cancel culture and the radical left”.

Before running for Congress, Mr Crane served in the US Navy Seals, and once appeared on the business reality show Shark Tank to pitch a line of bottle openers made out of .50-calibre shell casings. He dubbed the product the “Bottle Breacher”.

Matt Rosendale

Montanans elected Matt Rosendale to Congress in 2020, after his stints as the state’s auditor and member of the legislature. He first ran unsuccessfully for US Senate in 2018, before finding better luck in the House contest two years later.

During one vote, Mr Rosenthal, 62, teased his House colleagues by adding a lengthy pause while voting for “Kevin… Hern”, another congressman who shares a first name with the embattled Speaker front-runner.

His colleagues groaned audibly in response.

Andy Biggs

An attorney by trade, Andy Biggs was until last year chairman of the Freedom Caucus.

During the last administration, statistics show he voted nearly 80% in line with President Trump’s position on issues – compared to about 5% since Joe Biden has been in the White House.

Mr Biggs was also one of a number of Republican lawmakers referred for an ethics inquiry by the committee investigating the riot that took place at Capitol Hill two years ago.

He dismissed the move as a “political stunt”.

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