‘We’re wiser’: US Republican women candidates steer clear of speaker fight

By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the fractious U.S. House of Representatives’ Republican caucus has squabbled for three weeks over who should lead it, the group’s women members have stayed on the sidelines.

Some of the holdouts say that is a deliberate choice, to avoid what has been a brutal fight that has taken a political toll on many of the group’s top leaders.

“We’re wiser,” said Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a former chair of the Republican House Conference.

Since a small group of party hardliners engineered the Oct. 3 ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the caucus has been through round after round of votes in which 14 of its members have failed to garner the 217 votes needed to win the gavel and lead the group, which holds a narrow 221-212 majority.

Women make up 15% of the voting members of the House Republican party – compared to the 43% of House Democrats – and none have put themselves forward as speaker.

McCarthy succeeded Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to wield the chamber’s gavel, who left her leadership role after the party lost its majority in the November 2022 elections.

The chamber’s No. 4 Republican, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, has so far not put herself forward for the top job, standing by as she’s watched others try and fail to unite the party’s factions.

“Republican women are too smart to get involved in the shenanigans that have been taking place the last few weeks,” Representative Kat Cammack said on Tuesday.

Only one has received any votes on the House floor – Representative Kay Granger, who was nominated by fellow Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

“It’s a missed opportunity, but why would we subject ourselves to this?” Representative Lori Chavez-DeRemer said.

Representative Nicole Malliotakis put it more bluntly: “Men have egos, women have brains.”

(Reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Scott Malone and Stephen Coates)