House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropped a political bombshell on his Republican colleagues Thursday morning by dropping out of the race for House speaker. McCarthy was the heavy favorite to succeed the retiring John Boehner at the end of the month, though he faced long-shot challenges from Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Daniel Webster, the latter being the nominee of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Republicans were supposed to pick their nominee Thursday, but McCarthy's announcement forced the vote to be postponed. Even had he won this vote, it was unclear whether McCarthy would be able to get the necessary 218 votes when the full House voted on Oct. 29—thanks to the conservative opposition from within his own party.
"I think I shocked some of you," McCarthy said to reporters afterward, per the Hill. "I don't want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes. I think best thing for our party is to win with 247 votes." McCarthy, who said he would remain in his post as majority leader, said Republicans needed a "new face" to rally around. So what next? Well, "chaos" is the word used by Politico to describe what's going on, pointing out that it's hard to come up with another name capable of getting the necessary votes. Paul Ryan, long considered a strong contender, reiterated Thursday that he's not interested. (There's an outside chance that Boehner himself would stay on, at least temporarily.)