The Most Important Thing Happening in Politics Today

Oct 9, 2015

The battle over who will become the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is "probably the most important thing happening in politics today." That's according to Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University.

"I think anybody who really is following American politics today is probably better served by putting down the presidential race and picking up the speaker race because that’s really where all the action is going to be happening in the next month." Andersen says the choice of the next Speaker will determine what happens in Congress over the next year and whether House Republicans can unite behind a candidate.

Yesterday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced he was removing his name from consideration. That news came after the Freedom Caucus announced they would be backing Florida Congressman Daniel Webster for the job. The Freedom Caucus is made up of about 40 of the most conservative members, including Iowa’s first district Congressman Rod Blum. That's according to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.

Andersen says traditionally the party will caucus together, have an internal vote to decide who they select to be the next Speaker (since they are the majority party,) and the party will get in line behind that person. But yesterday's meeting by the House Republican Conference did not result in a GOP nominee for the job.

Andersen says House Republicans can allow 29 defections when they bring the vote to the floor October 29th. "The Freedom Caucus could derail them. And what happens then? If the party cannot unify behind a candidate they have real problems in front of them."

Andersen made his comments on Wednesday's River to River. Host Dean Borg also spoke with Iowa State University Political Science Professor Jim McCormick and University of Iowa Associate Professor of Political Science Tim Hagle.