Republican Kevin McCarthy, whose brief and tumultuous turn leading the US House culminated in the first ouster of a speaker, said Wednesday he will resign from Congress at the end of the year.
“I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “I know my work is only getting started.”
The 58-year-old California Republican styled himself as part of an emerging generation of “Young Gun” conservative leaders when Tea Party Republicans swept into power in 2010. Yet by the time he realized his ambition to become speaker McCarthy was viewed suspiciously by an ascendant populist right aligned with Donald Trump.
It took an extraordinary 15 rounds of voting for McCarthy to muster the support to be elected speaker in January and the defection of just eight dissident conservatives to topple him nine months later.
McCarthy announced his plans to depart Congress barely two months after he lost the leadership post.
He expressed mixed feelings about remaining in Congress at a New York Times Dealbook conference on Nov. 29.
“If I decide to run again, I have to know in my heart I’m giving 110%,” he said. “Look, if you just got thrown out as speaker, you go through different stages, would you not? And then you’ve got to turn around and make a decision.”
McCarthy was dogged during his speakership by bitter ideological divisions among House Republicans and the party’s slender majority, which allowed him to lose only a handful of lawmakers on party-line votes.
(Updates with additional background beginning with third paragraph.)