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Gaetz was the only Florida Republican to vote out the US Speaker of the House

Matt Gaetz speaks in front of a podium at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
John Raoux/AP
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AP
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2021, file photo, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.,, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Last Tuesday, Republican Matt Gaetz and seven others voted with Democrats to kick Kevin McCarthy out as House speaker. No other Florida Republicans joined him in the vote.

Once again, Florida is at the center of the national political stage.

On Tuesday, Republican Matt Gaetz and seven others voted with Democrats to kick Kevin McCarthy out as Speaker of the House. It’s the first time a House speaker has been voted out of the position.

NPR’s Greg Allen and National Journal Managing Editor Ledge King spoke about the move Friday with Tom Hudson on The Florida Roundup.

FLORIDA ROUNDUP: Listen to the full episode

Allen said he heard from hardline conservatives in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, which Gaetz represents, who were pleased by McCarthy’s removal.

“There’s a sense, though, that I think these very, very conservative members of the Republican Party feel that their views are not being taken seriously by the House leadership and aren’t being heard in Washington. They feel like we’ve got to take back our government, is what they’re saying to me, and they felt that Kevin McCarthy wasn’t doing it.”

Despite that, Gaetz had no Florida Republicans join him in voting against McCarthy, including hardline conservatives like Reps. Greg Steube, Anna Paulina Luna and Vern Buchanan.

King said that may be because Gaetz is not well-liked within the conference to begin with. He’s under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegations of sexual misconduct, campaign finance violations and more.

“There’s a sense that, hey, we have bigger battles to fight. The last thing we want to do, going into an important cycle, is look like we’re dysfunctional and can’t govern. And something like this only adds to the Democratic narrative that the Republicans are just a circus,” King said.

Allen said the constituents he heard from were dismissive of the allegations surrounding Gaetz. He also said the congressman is taking a page from former President Donald Trump as his national profile grows.

“His style really has, I think, been kind of pioneered by Trump, in the same way that Trump has broken norms in the presidential world, the norms that you would actually work with your party and the conference within closed doors and decide who the leader is, he’s thrown that out. And by doing that, he’s had a lot of success, so I think Gaetz has raised his name recognition to a point where suddenly, everyone in Florida knows who this congressman from the 1st District is.”

With McCarthy out of the job, it’s unclear who will replace him – along with his campaign fundraising power. The National Republican Congressional Committee said McCarthy helped it raise more than $20 million in this election cycle so far, and he’s pledged to raise more. That power, King said, helped him appeal to fellow Republicans.

“There’s a dinner for the NRCC that was just canceled, and a lot of vulnerable Republicans need the money, you know, New York, California especially, and that’s going to determine who’s going to control the House. So, to be determined,” King said.

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