Conservative leaders called on House Republicans to elect Rep. Jim Jordan as their new leader and pinned the blame for the Democratic takeover of the lower chamber on retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan and his leadership team.
Mr. Ryan’s departure became a major subplot of the 2018 midterm election cycle after two of President Trump’s biggest allies in the House — Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Mr. Jordan — both signaled an interest in leading the caucus in the next Congress.
At a press conference Wednesday in Washington, the heads of a half-dozen conservative groups said the House GOP’s inability to defend its majority should sink Mr. McCarthy’s chances, arguing that House GOP leaders own the loss.
“We want to be very clear that the position of our activists is that if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then a vote for Kevin McCarthy for minority leader is a vote for insanity,” said Noah Wall, of FreedomWorks.
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, said conservatives predicted a year ago that Republicans would lose the House majority because they abandoned their conservative principles.
“Sadly, we were right,” he said. “That is why conservatives everywhere are rallying behind Jim Jordan as the new GOP minority leader. Conservatives believe that with his leadership, the Republicans will regain the fallen majority and they can do it in two years.”
Mr. McCarthy was widely seen as the favorite to succeed Mr. Ryan as speaker if the GOP maintained control of the House. The California Republican helped raise $60 million to defend the House, and campaign with candidates all across the country.
Democrats, though, were still able to pick up the 23 seats they needed to flip the chamber and increase the chances of Rep. Nancy Pelosi taking control of the speaker’s gavel for the second time in her career.
Mr. McCarthy has yet to say whether he plans to run for minority leader in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election.
Mr. Jordan, meanwhile, wasted little time jumping into the race, telling The Hill Wednesday that he’s running and knocking the party for failing to deliver on its promises to replace Obamacare, strengthen border security and overhaul the welfare system.
Ken Cuccinelli, the head of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said that the entire House leadership team should be replaced, including Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
“The reality is, if you are going to choose a new path, you need new leadership,” he said.