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Arizona Lawmakers React To Ousting Of House Speaker McCarthy

October 5, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Rep. Kevin McCarthy became the first in American history to be voted out of the speakership this week, and Republican lawmakers are divided over that development.

Led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01), House Democrats joined six other Republicans to vote out House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20): in addition to Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and Eli Crane (R-AZ-02), there were Ken Buck (CO), Tim Burchett (TN), Bob Good (VA), Nancy Mace (SC), and Matt Rosendale (MT). 

As of Wednesday, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH-04) and Steve Scalise (R-LA-01) announced their candidacy for the speakership. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10) is serving as the speaker pro tempore. 

State Rep. Austin Smith (R-LD29) said that the “establishment” line of thinking was supporting Democrats to pass the continuing resolution, but not to vote out McCarthy. 

Similarly, State Rep. Justin Heap (R-LD10) challenged claims that those against McCarthy were traitorous. Heap said that those Republicans against McCarthy were for more important GOP priorities: an end to foreign war funding, border security, and the rejection of lengthy omnibus bills.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-LD-08) said the ouster was a “bad move” for the Republican Party and the country. 

“Now we are at a standstill again until we figure out who the new speaker is going to be,” said Lesko. “Republicans need to unite to defeat the Democrats’ radical agenda.” 

Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ-06) said the removal was “pointless, unproductive, and harmful” to the GOP agenda. 

“[A] handful of Republicans partnered with Democrats to stop our efforts to get it done, obstructing the work we have at hand,” said Ciscomani. “Washington is broken.” 

In response to a criticism of the ouster by Ciscomani, State Rep. Nancy Gutierrez (D-LD18) blamed the “radical right” faction of eight that ousted McCarthy for upending order in the House. 

“This is bad for our economy and democracy,” said Gutierrez. 

The day after issuing those criticisms of his party peers, Ciscomani had no problem taking a selfie with Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ-04), who also voted to oust McCarthy. 

Biggs said that McCarthy had repeatedly failed to uphold his policy promises. He further rejected the claim from Ciscomani and others that he was a chaos agent siding with Democrats.

Crane concurred, expressing hope for a leadership that upholds promises and displays situational awareness.

“I really want to see leadership that honors their word, understands the situation the country is in, and is willing to make a change,” said Crane. 

It was for those reasons that other Republican lawmakers supported the ouster. 

State Rep. Cory McGarr (R-LD17) said that McCarthy’s leadership was poor, hence why he was ousted.

Likewise, State Sen. Justine Wadsack (R-LD17) praised the House Freedom Caucus for standing up for Americans.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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