The House Freedom Caucus is split on its former chairmen, Rep. Andy Biggs, running for speaker as former President Donald Trump and his allies are whipping for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s ascension to the post.
Biggs, a conservative Arizona lawmaker, is set to make his case to the Freedom Caucus on Tuesday morning. Despite chairing the group from 2019 to earlier this year, Biggs has a difficult path to convincing the caucus’ more than two dozen members to line up behind his effort to defeat McCarthy.
Several high-profile members of the Freedom Caucus are actively backing McCarthy. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told reporters that the minority leader had earned her trust and no other public candidate was acceptable to the entire GOP conference.
Green, R-Ga., even floated the idea that if the Freedom Caucus blocked McCarthy and no credible alternative emerged, then Democrats could try to elect their own speaker with only a handful of centrist Republican defectors.
“If we don’t unite behind Kevin McCarthy, we’re opening up the door for the Democrats to be able to recruit some of our Republicans, and they may only need one or two since we don’t know what we will have in the majority,” said Greene. “I can’t support a challenge that will allow the Democrats to elect their own speaker by pulling some of ours.”
Other Freedom Caucus members said McCarthy had worked to diversify the GOP leadership and bring in outside views.
“Look, you guys know where I am ideologically,” said Rep. David Schweikert, a Freedom Caucus member from Arizona. “But, let’s be honest, McCarthy is a savant at human nature. So I think we can make this work.”
Hanging over Biggs’ candidacy is that some Freedom Caucus members do not believe he can win.
“Right now Andy Biggs is offering himself up as the temporary alternative until more emerge,” said Rachel Semmel of the Center for Renewing America, a think tank working to topple McCarthy. “So the squishes can’t go home and use their favorite excuse saying, ‘Nobody is running, I’m going to vote for McCarthy.’”
The strategy may not be a winner, though.
“If you ask people to go out on a ledge and defy leadership, you want to know it’s not for an exercise in futility,” said one Freedom Caucus member who was undecided about the leadership vote.
Complicating matters is that some Freedom Caucus members see Biggs’ challenge as just leverage against McCarthy in ongoing negotiations over House rules.
Several House Republicans told Fox News Digital they had heard some variation of that message from Trump world figures, including the former president.
Biggs is planning on challenging McCarthy Tuesday in an internal GOP conference vote to designate the party’s candidate for speaker. McCarthy, R-Calif., is expected to win the vote by a wide margin, but his speaker ambitions will not be secured until a full vote by the House in January.
As such, McCarthy’s allies and opponents are watching Tuesday’s internal conference vote closely for his margin of victory.
“It’s all about the margin,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va. “If it’s a bigger margin there is more room to maneuver on Freedom Caucus priorities.”