There might be somebody out there who can unite all 247 House Republicans, but Kevin McCarthy says it definitely isn't him. The House majority leader tells Politico that his shock decision not to seek the nomination for speaker came after friends said to him: "Why do you want to do it during this time? This time will be the worst time. They're going to eat you and chew you up." He says that while he could have won the speakership with around 220 votes, he "was never going to be able to get 247," which would have left him unable to pass crucial measures like the debt ceiling increase. A big factor was the decision of the House Freedom Caucus to back Rep. Daniel Webster for the job, which could have left McCarthy without enough votes, reports the Washington Post.
There could be murkier factors involved: On Wednesday, Rep. Walter Jones called for candidates who've committed "misdeeds" to withdraw from the race, and rumors are circulating that he was referring to an alleged affair between McCarthy and fellow GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers, Gawker reports. Her Wikipedia page was edited on Thursday to say she has allegedly been having an affair since 2011. The edit, which came from a Department of Homeland Security IP address, was quickly reversed to remove the claim, Mediaite reports. Jones says he doesn't have any proof of misconduct involving McCarthy or any other candidates, the Post reports. (McCarthy's Benghazi comments didn't help his cause.)