Following the abrupt withdrawal Thursday morning of U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy from the race to replace outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, U.S. Rep. David Jolly has thrown his support behind his congressional colleague Daniel Webster of Florida.
“We’re heading into uncharted territory,” Jolly told FloridaPolitics.com Thursday afternoon. “I’ve decided that I will be supporting Daniel Webster in the race for House Speaker. I believe that Congressman Webster’s experience and leadership is what we need right now.”
Jolly’s nod adds to the momentum Webster has generated during the past 24 hours in his bid for House Speaker. On Wednesday, the House Freedom Caucus endorsed the long-time Florida lawmaker; the group could give Webster up to 40 seats in the race to 218 needed to take the gavel.
McCarthy’s withdrawal was a surprise to many House members, including Jolly.
Pundits say his remarks on cable TV last week, acknowledging that the House Select Committee on Benghazi was a weapon used to hurt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House, harmed his credibility with the public and his colleagues. There were also questions over his standing as Boehner’s preferred choice to succeed him, which also hurt his chances with Tea Party conservatives who contend Boehner folded too often and too soon with the Obama administration.
Boehner has postponed the Republican caucus vote to choose a speaker, pledging to stay on until a new speaker is selected.
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz is another candidate openly running, and is expected to mount a serious challenge. Webster ran against Boehner last November and despite failing to force a second vote against Boehner, gained national attention and traction for his current bid.