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Gaetz Dealing With Decline In Support At Home After Ousting McCarthy

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was thrust into the national spotlight after he led the historic effort earlier this fall to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), but what has happened since then hasn’t all been positive for him.

According to the Washington Examiner, Gaetz appears to have rubbed some supporters the wrong way after the McCarthy ouster, which left the House without a Speaker for weeks, made the Republican Party look disorganized and chaotic, and led to a standstill on House business until members finally chose Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) late last month to replace McCarthy.

“This year, Gaetz launched his most controversial and consequential move yet, introducing the motion to vacate that ended in the House stripping McCarthy of his post in a 216-210 vote, marking the first time ever that a speaker was fired from the job,” the outlet reported, nothing that Gaetz has easily won his elections since 2016 since his Florida Pandhandle district is among the reddest in the state.

“However, recent poll numbers show Gaetz’s constituents might not be too satisfied with him,” the outlet continued.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Florida Atlantic University Mainstreet PolCom Lab, 57 percent of Florida voters are dissatisfied with the performance of their congressman, with only 21 percent expressing approval. While it is no surprise that 82.9 percent of Democrats disapprove of the conservative lawmaker, Republican sentiment appears divided, posing challenges for Gaetz’s reelection and potential ambitions for higher office. Specifically, 36.3 percent of Republicans express disapproval, while 36.6 percent approve, the Examiner noted.

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Following the removal of McCarthy by Gaetz and seven other Republicans, the House experienced weeks of turmoil as the GOP conference struggled to find consensus on a new leader. The initial nominee, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), was unable to garner sufficient support and withdrew from consideration. Subsequently, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the second nominee, fell short of obtaining a majority of votes during a third round of balloting. Additionally, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) relinquished his position as the party’s speaker-designate due to opposition from Republican members and former President Donald Trump.

Following the vote, there were calls from within Gaetz’s own party for his immediate expulsion from the Republican conference. Representatives Mike Lawler (R-NY) and David Joyce (R-OH) were among them.

“It was disgraceful and violated House Republican conference rules. That required a majority of a majority to remove a House speaker and file that motion to vacate, and they didn’t adhere to that, and it was wrong,” Lawler told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Adding to the sentiment that Gaetz might face expulsion from Congress is McCarthy himself. On Sunday, McCarthy acknowledged the possibility of Gaetz encountering a similar expulsion threat as Rep. George Santos (R-NY) did, pending the release of the House Ethics Committee’s report.

“We’re gonna have to come together,” McCarthy said Nov. 17 on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” “We do know this is really driven … [by] Matt Gaetz’s ethics complaint. I think once that ethics complaint comes forward, he could have the same problem that Santos has. I think the conference would be probably better united to be able to move forward and get this all done.”

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The Examiner adds:

Gaetz has been under review by the House Ethics Committee, focused on allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, misusing campaign funds and state identification records, and other allegations. That investigation was paused due to a related 2020 investigation into allegations that Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old. The Department of Justice dropped the investigation earlier this year, declining to bring charges against him, citing they could not make a strong enough case.

Gaetz has consistently denied any wrongdoing in both instances. Recently, he urged a House Ethics investigation into McCarthy concerning an altercation with Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN). Burchett alleged that McCarthy had “sucker-punched” him in the kidney, an accusation McCarthy refuted.

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