Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy Will Retire From Congress at End of Year

Then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appears on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 12. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

(The Washington Post) – Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the former House speaker who was ousted from his position in October in a revolt by hard-right members joined by Democrats, will not seek reelection to his congressional seat and will retire from Congress at the end of this month, he announced Wednesday.

“I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways,” McCarthy said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “I know my work is only getting started.”

McCarthy’s retirement will bring to an end a 16-year House career that saw him quickly rise through the ranks of Republican leadership, culminating with his stint as speaker. His ouster marked the first time in history that the House voted to remove its leader, a move that threw the chamber into a period of instability.

McCarthy’s departure before the end of his term means California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will have to call a special election to replace him.

McCarthy’s term is set to end in January 2025. He represents California’s 20th District, which covers much of the state’s Central Valley.

McCarthy’s decision comes in the wake of an announcement Tuesday by one of his closest allies, Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.), that he is retiring at the end of his term. McHenry served as acting speaker during the three weeks in October after McCarthy’s ouster.

McCarthy’s downfall was precipitated by a motion to vacate him from the House’s top leadership position from Rep. Matt Gaetz, a hard-right Florida Republican and McCarthy’s antagonist. McCarthy’s detractors accused him of not keeping promises made during a lengthy fight to secure the speaker’s gavel in January.

It took Republicans three weeks to select McCarthy’s successor – Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), a relatively unknown lawmaker who, unlike McCarthy, had not spent time in GOP leadership before being cast into the spotlight.

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