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Ralph Norman joins far-right dissent against prospective House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

U.S. Rep Ralph Norman of South Carolina (R-5th) at a press conference with Freedom Caucus members in December.
U.S. Rep Ralph Norman of South Carolina (R-5th) at a press conference with Freedom Caucus members in December.

Update: 7:14 p.m. Jan. 5 — After 11 rounds of voting, Rep. Norman has remained the only South Carolina Republican to not vote for Rep. McCarthy. Norman voted for Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds over seven rounds of voting on Wednesday and Thursday.

5:15 p.m., Jan. 3 — Over the course of three roll calls to elect the next House Speaker Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina (R-5th) joined a small-but-influential chorus of GOP lawmakers from the far-right Freedom Caucus in dissenting against California Republican Kevin McCarthy – the party’s front runner to succeed California Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

During the first roll call, Norman backed the nomination of fellow-Freedom Caucus member Andy Biggs – a Republican representative from Arizona. Biggs ultimately received 10 votes. Although he was not nominated, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also received six votes.

In rounds two and three , with Biggs no longer nominated, Norman backed the nomination of Jordan – who himself nominated and voted for McCarthy in the second round.

Norman’s vote for someone other than McCarthy was hardly a surprise, as Norman has been a vocal opponent to McCarthy’s candidacy since the GOP won back control of the House in November.

Norman addressed the reasons for his opposition to McCarthy in a blog post on his website on Jan. 1.

“What we need – and what I expect – from a House Speaker is someone willing to fight HARD for Republican priorities, especially on fiscal matters,” Norman wrote (emphasis his). “And that's precisely my concern with Rep. McCarthy.”

McCarthy became the House minority leader in 2018. Since, Norman wrote, “there have been so many examples where Republicans have been rolled, where liberal priorities were allowed to prevail without a real debate, where Republican strengths were not leveraged, and where fiscal responsibility was simply cast aside.”

Norman did not provide any specific examples. But did expand on his belief that McCarthy has not done enough to curb high-dollar, mainly Democrat-led bills that have passed since 2021.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Norman's office said: "Rep. Norman believes that our defecit spending and failure to balance the budget are perhaps the most important issues of our time, and he remains unconvinced that rep. McCarthy is willing or able to change that status quo should he be elected speaker."

Norman was the only South Carolina GOP House member to not vote for McCarthy.

South Carolina’s five remaining GOP House members – U.S. Reps Jeff Duncan (R-3rd), William Timmons (R-4th), Nancy Mace (R-1st), Joe Wilson (R-5th), and Russel Fry (R-7th) all voted for McCarthy, all three rounds.

Mace cast her vote “for Kevin” and Wilson voted “all the way for McCarthy.” Fry’s vote was his first as a member of the House. He defeated longtime Rep. Tim Rice in last spring’s primaries.

South Carolina’s lone Democrat in the U.S. House, Jim Clyburn (D-6th) voted to name partymate Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who received unanimous Democratic support.

Correction: The spelling of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries' first name has been corrected.

Scott Morgan is the Upstate multimedia reporter for South Carolina Public Radio, based in Rock Hill. He cut his teeth as a newspaper reporter and editor in New Jersey before finding a home in public radio in Texas. Scott joined South Carolina Public Radio in March of 2019. His work has appeared in numerous national and regional publications as well as on NPR and MSNBC. He's won numerous state, regional, and national awards for his work including a national Edward R. Murrow.