Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) resigned from the House Freedom Caucus Thursday over the group’s role in derailing the Republican Conference vote to nominate the next speaker:
“I was a member of the Freedom Caucus in the very beginning because we were focused on making process reforms to get every Member’s voice heard and advance conservative policy,” Ribble said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call. “When the Speaker resigned and they pivoted to focusing on the leadership race, I withdrew.”
Members were set to vote Thursday for one of three candidates for speaker, the favorite of which was Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. But the California Republican stunned colleagues by announcing — with zero warning — he would not be seeking the nomination after all, throwing the conference into turmoil as they had all gathered in the Longworth House Office Building prepared to cast their secret ballots.
The HFC had decided the day before to vote as a bloc for another candidate, Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, and it wasn’t clear McCarthy had the votes to win — either in conference or on the floor. He told members he wasn’t “the one” to lead the group and privately shared with colleagues he would never have been able to satisfy the demands of the conservatives, even if he got the job.
“I spent thirty years as a leader in the private sector,” Ribble said in his statement Thursday night, “and I have a clear idea of the qualities that a leader will need to unite our Conference.”
Ribble is the second member in as many months to leave the House Freedom Caucus. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) left the group in September over disagreements on a strategy to vote against any continuing resolution that funded Planned Parenthood.