Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chair of the newly formed select committee to investigate the State Department's handling of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, speaks on his phone as he walks to the Rayburn House Office Building, May 7, 2014.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty

Some palace intrigue in the House GOP leadership race

When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stunned much of the political world with his resignation announcement last week, he wasted no time in signaling his preference in a successor. The GOP leader didn’t officially endorse House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), at least not publicly, but Boehner made his wishes clear.
 
The outgoing Speaker did not, however, send any signals for the rest of the House Republican leadership team. Is Boehner taking a hands-off approach?
 
Perhaps not. Politico, with a piece that has not been confirmed by MSNBC or NBC News, reports today that Boehner met “secretly” with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) yesterday, in the hopes of convincing the South Carolinian to run for Majority Leader.
The previously undisclosed meeting reveals new behind-the-scenes involvement by Boehner, who has not endorsed any candidates in the leadership race. That the Ohio Republican inserted himself in the contest underscores his concern about who succeeds him in GOP leadership. Boehner requested the meeting after word spread that Gowdy was considering a bid for the post.
 
Many Republicans close to Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy believe Gowdy could help protect the California Republican’s right flank. McCarthy allies fear hard-line conservatives could block his ascent to the speaker’s chair during the vote on the House floor, throwing the chamber into turmoil.
As it turns out, by late yesterday, Gowdy made clear he intended to stay where he is – leading the increasingly indefensible Benghazi committee that no longer seems especially interested in Benghazi.
 
But if these reports are accurate, it’s noteworthy that the House GOP will soon end up with a Majority Leader who isn’t the one the party really wanted for the job.
 
Speaking of Gowdy, Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) seemed to suggest on C-SPAN this morning that Gowdy intends to retire from Congress next year, though Gowdy’s office quickly insisted that the congressman “has not made any announcement about 2016.”
 
Of course, as denials go, that’s less than iron-clad. It might even help explain why Gowdy isn’t interested in joining the Republican leadership.
 
As for the upcoming leadership elections, the Speaker’s office announced this morning that the new GOP slate will be elected on Oct. 8, which is a week from tomorrow. The voting is held by secret ballot, which occasionally helps make the results unexpectedly interesting.
 
 

House Republicans, John Boehner and Trey Gowdy

Some palace intrigue in the House GOP leadership race