The last player chosen each spring in the National Football League draft is referred to as Mr. Irrelevant for his small chance of making a team roster in the fall. An analogy in politics is House Minority Leader, so congratulations to Kevin McCarthy on his selection Wednesday to lead House Republicans in 2019. He’s Rep. Irrelevant.
The former small business owner from southern California defeated Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, 159-43, in the shrunken GOP conference. The lopsided vote was a surprise given that the GOP lost its majority and Mr. McCarthy has been Majority Leader.
As recently as 2015, Mr. McCarthy dropped out as a candidate to succeed John Boehner as House Speaker because he lacked the votes. Paul Ryan then stepped in to perform the thankless duty of being trashed by backbenchers in safe seats and Never Trumpers from the moral high ground of the bleachers.
Mr. Jordan, a frequent critic of the leadership, deserves credit for putting himself on the line and offering a competing vision. But the 3 to 1 margin for Mr. McCarthy suggests that the GOP conference wants a united front rather than more factionalism. The only way to have any influence as a House minority is to stick together and put pressure on the majority to pass their priorities with Democratic votes.
Mr. McCarthy is no policy wonk, preferring to focus on the electoral details of winning seats. That’s more important than policy when you’re in the minority since the media won’t report what the GOP proposes in any case. House Republicans can play important roles in defending Trump Administration officials, when warranted, against Democratic excess.
But the first—the only—job of a House minority is to become a majority. Their best chance will be 2020 when freshman Democrats are most vulnerable as they run for re-election the first time. Defeat enough of them and Mr. McCarthy could be Mr. Speaker.