This just in from The Hill:

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has dropped out of elections for House Speaker.

Republicans were to meet Thursday at noon to elect a new Speaker.

McCarthy had struggled to win over conservatives, and while he was the favorite to win the closed-door vote, he did not have the votes on the floor to win election.

McCarthy’s press conference is here:

Chaffetz is still running:

Paul Ryan, still not running:

Um, well, ok:

Wednesday, The Hill reported Rep. Jones not so subtly hinted some running for leadership might have a few skeletons in the closet. Could this have been a contributing factor in McCarthy’s sudden decision?

Thursday, McCarthy said the letter from Rep. Jones had no bearing on his decision.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) wants to avoid the possibility of a member of the new House GOP leadership resigning from office because of a scandal.

In a letter to House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Jones asked that Republicans discuss urging candidates for leadership to drop out if they might one day embarrass the party because of past indiscretions.

“With all the voter distrust of Washington felt around the country, I’m asking that any candidate for Speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican Conference, and the House of Representatives if they become public,” Jones wrote.

Jones, who’s served in the House since 1995, offered former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, who ran for Speaker in 1998, as examples. Both Gingrich and Livingston admitted to extramarital affairs.

…Jones is backing Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) for Speaker. Webster is considered a long shot against the front-runner McCarthy, who also faces Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

During a press conference Thursday afternoon, McCarthy clarified his previous comments on the House Select Committee on Benghazi saying, “he doesn’t want to be a distraction to the process.” Comments made by McCarthy during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity last week, though they were largely taken out of context, were circulated widely by Democrats who’ve long-held the Congressional investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attacks was nothing more than a partisan witch-hunt.

McCarthy’s remarks were used in Hillary Clinton’s inaugural presidential campaign ad this week.

Meanwhile, we’re all:

andy-shocked

With such a factious House, it’s virtually impossible to predict who has the popularity, likability, and clout whip the requisite 218 votes to win the gavel.

Let the games begin! Again.

Also likely:

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