(breitbart) – Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a vocal opponent of House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), signaled to reporters that McCarthy may be headed for a victory in the speaker race after more than half of those who had initially opposed him flipped their vote in favor of the leader in the 12th round of voting Friday afternoon.
Republicans had, through 11 ballots over three days, been unable to elect a speaker because of roughly 20 holdouts, many of whom had concerns about McCarthy and sought structural changes to the House and other commitments from the leader before they would vote for him.
Gaetz, however, firmly placed himself in a small crowd of “never Kevin” voters weeks ago. Gaetz told Steve Bannon’s War Room in an interview in December that McCarthy did not have the requisite majority of votes nor did he have even 200 votes.
“There’s a reason that the true conservatives are going to stand against him and deprive him the speakership,” Gaetz said at the time.
Those members, many of whom are in the conservative House Freedom Caucus (Gaetz is not in the caucus but frequently aligns with them on issues), did stand against McCarthy up until Friday morning as intense negotiations between the holdouts and McCarthy took place this week.
The negotiations included, among what appears to be many items, bringing the motion to vacate down to a one-member threshold and putting more members of the Freedom Caucus on the Rules Committee, as well as budgetary provisions and vows to bring votes on certain legislation to the floor.
Those agreements appeared to be overwhelmingly successful when 14 holdouts voted for McCarthy on Friday. The burst of momentum has led to several members, including McCarthy himself, showing optimism that by having all Republicans present — two were absent Friday morning — and flipping a couple of the remaining holdouts to McCarthy or “present” votes, McCarthy could clinch the speakership, and do so as early as Friday night.
Gaetz was asked on Friday by CNN’s Manu Raju if he would “concede” that McCarthy was going to win following the vote flips.
“It’s looking like it’s heading that way,” Gaetz said.
In a change of tune from December, Gaetz also told reporters, “I think that the rules and personnel changes in the House that we’ve been talking about will do a lot to democratize power to the membership” and will allow members to be in a “far stronger position.”
One reporter asked Gaetz if he would go as far as to consider voting for McCarthy at this stage, to which Gaetz replied, “Hope springs eternal.”
He added, “I’m very excited about the changes that we’ve made and that we’re still negotiating on spending and on the rules, and we’ll see how it goes tonight.”
A 14th round of voting is expected to begin at 10:00 p.m. Friday.