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Op-Ed: With McCarthy Flailing, Here Are 5 Options for Speaker from Outside the House

Kevin McCarthy’s race for speaker of the House has been a disaster. In a Fox News interview over the weekend, Rep. Darrell Issa claimed that McCarthy was only down “a couple” votes in his bid for the third-highest-ranking job in America. Issa assured viewers that McCarthy would soon take the speaker’s gavel from Nancy Pelosi. By the third round of voting on Tuesday, McCarthy had lost 20 Republican votes to  Jim Jordan. Exhausted and gridlocked, the House adjourned without any indication of who would be speaker. Getting a quality speaker from this mess seems unlikely. McCarthy appears weak and damaged. Jordan would be an excellent speaker, but he seems unlikely to flip enough votes to ascend to the speakership. In recent weeks, an increasing chorus of voices has argued that the next speaker should come from outside the House of Representatives. Everyone from congressmen to The New York Times has nodded toward the unprecedented move of choosing a speaker from outside House ranks. This is a great idea. There is a lot on the line in the next two years. The House is at last under GOP control. American voters are depending on House Republicans to deliver on border security and election security, prevent amnesty and COVID tyranny, and help rebuild the American economy. Nothing this House was elected to do can be done without a strong, savvy, charismatic speaker. Here are a few options from outside the House that should be considered: Mark Meadows A Meadows speakership could please nearly all sides. Meadows was an avid supporter of then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016, and he stuck with Trump (as chief of staff) until the end of his presidency in January 2021. Meadows remains cozy with Trump and has not been seriously tarnished by the Jan. 6 committee. Meadows helped found the conservative House Freedom Caucus and remains popular with current members. Most of the congressional moderates Meadows has clashed with in the past, like John Boehner and Jason Chaffetz, are no longer in office. Given the ongoing leadership chaos, Meadows would be likely to garner the support of GOP conservatives while minimizing resistance from the center of the party. On the biggest issues currently facing the country, Meadows’ views have become increasingly popular. Whereas Meadows once locked horns with House colleagues on his hardline immigration stances, the mood of the country is now drifting toward Meadows’ positions. Much of the GOP base remains committed to border security and, in recent days, even strict Democratic partisans like California Gov. Gavin Newsom have begun to warn that something must be done about illegal immigration. Kari Lake Kari Lake is a sensational political talent. She is telegenic, fashionable, tough as nails, and her command of policy is nearly unmatched by any recent GOP candidate. Lake has the charisma that Nikki Haley would pay her consultants big bucks to teach her. Lake has been a strong advocate of border state governors invoking the Invasion Clause to secure the southern border. She was also an early opponent of COVID school closures and the introduction of critical race theory in Arizona schools. Amid a groundswell of grassroots support, the former television news anchor was a MAGA favorite and received an early endorsement from Trump in her bid for Arizona governor. Lake’s performance in the race, albeit unsuccessful, was stunning despite the opposition she faced from all establishment sides. Her lawsuit against Arizona’s election commission exposed shocking incompetence and maladministration on behalf of state election officials. Lake has been floated as a potential running mate for Trump in 2024. Electing her as speaker of the House would not only help establish Lake as a serious VP candidate but would give her the legislative expertise that Trump sorely needed in his first administration. Jeff Sessions Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a wise man. Sessions was the only one in the Trump administration doing anything substantial on immigration and, as a senator, he was among the fiercest opponents of senseless free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Sessions would be a shrewd but unorthodox choice for House Republicans. The former senator from Alabama occupies a peculiar place within the party. During his confirmation, Sessions received uniform support from moderates and conservatives alike. Although his support among Trump’s base has partially waned since Trump repeatedly attacked him as attorney general, Sessions could appeal to moderates who see him as a straight shooter despite his association with Trump, and conservatives may still support Sessions because of his impeccable record. Sessions’ decades-long legislative experience could be indispensable to the House GOP this congress. Interestingly, Sessions would not be the only former senator to serve in House leadership. Claude Pepper of Florida was a senator who later continued his legislative career in the House of Representatives. Eventually, Pepper would rise to the rank of chair of the House Rules Committee. Allen West Allen West was a Tea Party favorite in the mid-2010s. West is a former House member from Florida who later became chair of the Texas Republican Party. West’s legislative experience makes him an easy choice for speaker, and his early skepticism of COVID lockdowns showed his uniquely good judgment. West’s primary against Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott demonstrated his willingness to continue his political career. Additionally, as a black conservative, West’s presence may be helpful to Republicans in fighting whatever political battle may arise from the Supreme Court’s expected decision against affirmative action in college admissions. Kris Kobach Kris Kobach is the best senator and/or Trump appointee that never happened. He has been in the background of politics for years. Kobach is right about (nearly) everything and knows how to make it happen. The former Kansas attorney general was the author of Mitt Romney’s brilliant “self-deportation” policy during the 2012 presidential campaign, the author of SB 1070 (Arizona’s strictest immigration law), and he has authored sensible election security laws like the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections Act. Some in the political world have attacked Kobach because of the seemingly presumptuous demands he made on Trump while being considered for a Cabinet position. These attacks miss the mark. Were Kobach’s demands presumptuous? Perhaps. But if we rid Washington of every presumptuous politician, we’d have drained the swamp into a desert. If we rid Washington of everyone who has failed Americans on immigration and border security, however, the only person left would be Kris Kobach. Electing Kris Kobach as speaker would be electing someone with a proven record of competence. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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