WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has dropped out of the race to succeed House Speaker John Boehner, in a shocking move that reflected his inability to gather the support of the Republican caucus.
Now Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) could be one step closer to replacing Boehner.
The move came without warning as House Republicans were in a closed-door meeting to select their nominee for speaker, with McCarthy's wife and kids in the room. Boehner subsequently postponed the vote.
Boehner is poised to resign at the end of the month and there is no clear successor who can unite the conference and win the post.
An influential group of conservatives endorsed a long-shot candidate, Rep. Daniel Webster, on Wednesday, throwing McCarthy's ability to win the House floor vote later this month in doubt.
"I am not the one," McCarthy told the Republicans, according to Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas.
There is a "brand new race for speaker," Huelskamp said, and criticized Boehner and the leadership for "stunts," that include announcing the resignation the day after Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress.
Members had no indication the move was coming. "Totally stunned," said Rep. Peter King, R-New York, on CNN.
The House Freedom Caucus is meeting as a group shortly before 1 p.m. ET., Rep. Mick Mulvaney said on CNN, saying the group will review some possible candidates.
Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and someone who had been viewed as a contender for the job, immediately said he is not interested.
"While I am grateful for the encouragement I've received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee," Ryan said in a statement.
This is a developing story. Check back with Fox 13 for the latest updates.