EXCLUSIVE: House GOP Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., will not vote for either of the formally-declared candidates for speaker and will instead back former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on the House floor, he told Fox News Digital on Tuesday night.
Gimenez has been a steadfast McCarthy ally in the week since his ouster by a majority vote of eight GOP hardliners and every House Democrat.
“I’m still with Kevin McCarthy. I think that what happened to him was a travesty, and I just don’t wish to be part of it,” Gimenez said. “I’ll continue to vote for Kevin until Kevin tells me that he’s no longer a candidate.”
He left early during a closed-door House GOP forum where Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, were making their final pitches before a closed-door conference vote on Wednesday morning to pick Republicans’ new nominee for the gavel.
McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that he’s asked Republicans not to elect him as a candidate in the closed-door Wednesday vote.
Gimenez said, “[McCarthy] said, please don’t nominate him. That doesn’t mean ‘Please don’t vote for me.’”
“Scalise and Jordan are going to do exactly the same thing Kevin McCarthy would’ve done. So why change?” he said.
Asked why he left the candidate forum early, Gimenez said: “I’m a big fan of movies, but I don’t see them over and over again. And I’ve seen this movie, so I didn’t feel like looking at it again.”
He said he still intends to attend the Wednesday vote and will again stand behind McCarthy.
Gimenez also said he believes others will follow suit.
If enough people do, it could pose a math problem for the GOP — House Republicans have a razor-thin majority. A candidate for speaker can only afford to lose four votes to still clinch a majority needed to be elected for the top job.
House Republicans are still debating whether to raise the threshold needed to pick a candidate for speaker from simple majority of the conference to a 217-House-wide majority.