On October 25, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) expressed his support for the election of Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.) as the House Speaker, as a clear indication of the growing influence of the “MAGA movement” within the GOP and the diminishing influence of the establishment, sometimes referred to as the “swamp.”
After three weeks of uncertainty in leadership, the GOP conference rallied behind Mr. Johnson, resulting in his victory with 220 votes in the initial floor ballot on October 25. Mr. Gaetz, who played a pivotal role in the movement to replace the former Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), highlighted Mr. Johnson’s triumph as a testament to the increasing strength and influence of the “MAGA movement” in the political landscape of Capitol Hill.
During an interview on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, Mr. Gaetz emphasized the significance of this power shift, stating, “The swamp is on the run. MAGA is ascendant.” He also claimed that the transition from Kevin McCarthy to MAGA Mike Johnson demonstrates the MAGA movement’s growing influence and the realignment of power within the Republican Party.
Mr. Gaetz shed light on the internal party discussions that culminated in Mr. Johnson’s election following the brief candidacy of Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who withdrew his nomination amid the unhappiness of many conservatives just hours after being chosen by the GOP on October 24. Mr. Johnson emerged as the nominee after Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) failed to secure the necessary support on the House floor.
Mr. Gaetz revealed that following Mr. Emmer’s withdrawal, Mr. McCarthy was the only GOP member to oppose a request from Rep. Marcus Molinaro (R-N.Y.), a freshman congressman, for unanimous consent to conduct a non-binding poll to assess Mr. Johnson’s viability as a nominee. According to Mr. Gaetz, Mr. McCarthy’s objection was a strategic move to prevent a unifying moment behind Mr. Johnson, which could have jeopardized his own chances of reclaiming the speakership despite not being an official candidate.
Mr. Gaetz further disclosed that Mr. McCarthy sought write-in votes but received a minimal number. “Mike Johnson was gaining momentum. ” Mr. Gaetz said ultimately, Mr. McCarthy received 43 votes in a secret ballot, while Mr. Mike Johnson secured a majority. Following this, Mr. Johnson requested a roll-call vote, compelling those 43 members to publicly declare their support for a candidate who was not actively running instead of uniting behind Mr. Johnson.
“And when we called for the roll call, do you know how many people voted for Kevin McCarthy? Zero,” Mr. Gaetz added, accusing the former Speaker of attempting to undermine the last four speaker nominees while secretly plotting his return to power.
Mr. Johnson’s election was met with a standing ovation from his fellow Republicans, and Mr. Gaetz hailed it as a victory over the establishment. He praised Mr. Johnson’s capabilities and integrity, expressing confidence in his ability to make significant contributions to the country.
In his inaugural speech as Speaker, Mr. Johnson emphasized his readiness to address the pressing issues facing Americans domestically and internationally. He reiterated his commitment to restoring public trust in the House of Representatives.