So the big news today in the troubled House Republican Conference is that John Boehner has canceled early intra-GOP elections for the number two and number three spots in the leadership until after his successor has been chosen by the full House in a vote now scheduled for October 29. It was perceived as a setback for the GOP Establishment candidate for Majority Leader, Steve Scalise, who might win a snap vote but could see some erosion in his position over the next several weeks. But the most interesting and potentially perilous situation is that facing presumptive Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has been given a quick vote on Thursday to become the GOP nominee for Speaker.

McCarthy’s latest challenger, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, is arguing that there are enough Freedom Caucus members determined to vote against McCarthy that they will combine with House Democrats to deny the Californian the gavel on October 29, which would also create a big crisis for House Republicans generally. Thus Chaffetz is, ironically, running as a “unity” candidate. That’s how things have been turned upside down among congressional Republicans lately: 40 members represent a majority thanks to their superior ideological credentials.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.