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That did not play out how I expected. No other way to put it. Kevin McCarthy was ousted and then within hours he self-ousted. He’s out. He won’t try to win back the gavel. (Someone in that position almost inevitably leaves Congress. But that’s a story for another day.) Now the race seems – at least for the moment – fairly wide open.

The whole drama is vaguely reminiscent of the day of chaos that launched the Speakership of Denny Hastert 25 years ago. People i’ve spoken to speak of confusion, chaos, uncertainty. All of that makes sense. The one thing that stands out to me is that the supposedly most hated guy in the caucus decided to throw down the gauntlet and he won. He made a decision and McCarthy is gone. It’s very hard for me to see how that doesn’t leave if not Gaetz himself then Gaetz’s crew much more powerful than they were. The next Speaker knows the price of crossing them.

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