House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) is at last House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California), after a dramatic day of votes that lasted four days and went to a 15th ballot – longer than any Speaker election since 1859. McCarthy successfully whittled his Republican opponents down from 21 to six (all of whom voted present), just barely enough for him to win with 216 votes.
As they did for the first 14 ballots, New Jersey Reps.-elect Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), Chris Smith (R-Manchester), and Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) all enthusiastically voted for McCarthy. All are mainstream Republicans, and all committed to supporting McCarthy before the 2022 elections.
On the Democratic side, the state’s nine Democratic representatives voted for House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York). Jeffries got the votes of all 212 Democrats on every single vote save one, when Rep.-elect David Trone (D-Maryland) was in surgery and Jeffries got 211.
The second-to-last vote was a deeply intense one, with Reps.-elect Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) voting “present,” just barely denying McCarthy a majority. (One pro-McCarthy Republican was so incensed that he lunged at Gaetz.)
Again, though, New Jersey’s representatives played little part in the drama. Now, they face the prospect of two years in a deeply divided House, with the potential for substantial chaos thanks to the terms of the compromises McCarthy made with his detractors.