Lincoln Project revives Liz Truss lettuce challenge to mock Kevin McCarthy’s chances of becoming House leader

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The Lincoln Project has revived one of the most memorable political stunts of 2022 in the first days of the new year — asking whether Rep Kevin McCarthy’s chances of becoming the next Speaker of the House will outlast a head of lettuce.

The lettuce bit began in October of last year when the Daily Star launched a livestream on YouTube showing a framed photograph of then-Prime Minister Liz Truss next to a head of iceburg lettuce and similarly asking whether Ms Truss’ reign as prime minister or the lettuce would last longer.

As Ms Truss’ political difficulties mounted throughout October, the livestream gained in popularity. When Ms Truss ultimately announced her resignation on October 20, the lettuce, which had not yet wilted, was declared victorious over the United Kingdom’s shortest-lived prime minister ever.

Daily Star editors flipped the portrait of Ms Truss down and put a crown on the lettuce and placed a glass of champagne and a sausage roll nearby to help it celebrate its triumph. The next day, the newspaper released a special edition headline “Lettuce rejoice”.

Mr McCarthy is now in a similarly precarious political position. Even though he has led the Republican caucus in the House since 2019, it became clear on Tuesday that he lacked the requiste votes to become Speaker — with as many as 20 Republican members declining to support him in open balloting.

Mr McCarthy did not win a majority of votes on the first, second, or third ballots taken on Tuesday, after which Congress adjourned without a Speaker. It is not clear how Mr McCarthy will win the votes he needs in the coming days or if an alternative candidate who can win a majority might emerge.

A number of the Republicans not backing Mr McCarthy have thrown their support behind far right Rep Jim Jordan of Ohio, while Democrats have remained uniting in voting for their leader Rep Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Mr McCarthy’s failure to win the Speakership on the first ballot is historic — it’s the first time in nearly a century that no Speaker has been elected on the first ballot.

There is clearly no love lost between Mr McCarthy and the Lincoln Project, the firm intially founded by ex-Republican political operatives to take on former President Donald Trump. The firm has produced a number of viral videos attacking Republican leaders, but has also been criticised for distracting attention and diverting resources away from Democratic organising efforts.

The House is slated to reconvene at noon EST tomorrow.