Politics

Rumors On The Internets Swirl As McCarthy Abandons Speakership Race

(Photo: Getty Images)

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

It’s pandemonium in Washington, as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has stunned observers by pulling out of the speakership race. There are theories to explain his decision, but one has really set tongues wagging.

Here’s my report at The Week:

Many conservatives are buzzing over rumors — and let’s be clear, they are unsubstantiated rumors that both parties deny — that McCarthy had carried on an affair with Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). And indeed, Ellmers had a rather interesting quote in The Hill today that can plausibly be read as dovetailing with the rumors. “[McCarthy] has not spoken to me personally for my vote, and Jason Chaffetz has, so that’s where I am right now,” she said, adding: “I’m apparently not high on his priority list.”

Let’s be clear: Both McCarthy and Ellmers deny the affair, and there is nothing beyond rumors suggesting it. (Ellmers sent a cease-and-desist letter to a website reporting allegations of the affair.) But as RedState‘s Erick Erickson writes, the veracity of the allegation may not even matter to McCarthy’s political career: “[T]he rumor itself may have led to McCarthy’s collapse. It has become a louder buzz over the past few days with more and more people on and off the Hill talking about it. Once Ellmers’ odd quote was out there, the buzzing became chatter.”

Read the whole thing here.