The 2024 crisis McCarthy is fielding — that you don’t know about yet

The 2024 crisis McCarthy is fielding — that you don’t know about yet

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy pauses during an event with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, at the Capitol in Washington on July 27, 2023. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

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Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House GOP leaders gathered earlier this summer to discuss a jarring problem with their 2024 campaign strategy: They lacked strong recruits in too many critical districts. The field was so sparse, in fact, that nearly everyone on the leadership team committed to help close the gap, according to five people familiar with the strategy who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. As Republicans launched their concerted campaign to woo on-the-fence recruits into a 2024 cycle already dominated by former President Donald Trump, McCarthy, and his top deputies — Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — met with candidates to ratchet up their sales pitch. They flew many potential hopefuls to Washington to make the case in person. Weeks later, Republicans are making progress in their bid to grow their narrow and unruly majority. While a few holes still remain — most notably in Maine and Alaska — party strategists said their recruitment worries have largely abated as Labor Day approaches. Their efforts may bear fruit come the 2024 general election, when former President Donald Trump’s front-running performance in the presidential primary could culminate in a polarizing presence at the top of the ticket. Republican candidates have jumped into swing-seat races in Nevada (Heidi Kasama) and Pennsylvania (Maria Montero, Ryan Mackenzie and Rob Mercuri), with more expected to follow soon. Hudson declared himself “thrilled” with how well it’s going, saying in a statement that McCarthy’s entire leadership team acted as “incredible partners.” That list of forthcoming launches in battleground areas includes two of the GOP’s most eagerly courted recruits. Alison Esposito, a former NYPD officer who ran for lieutenant governor in 2022, is preparing a run against Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.); and former Green Beret Derrick Anderson is moving toward a bid for the seat Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) has indicated she will vacate to run for governor. McCarthy and Dan Conston — the head of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a top GOP super PAC — have aggressively wooed the Virginian.