The race is on: Who could replace McCarthy as speaker?

Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leaves the House floor after being ousted as Speaker of the House at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The race is on: Who could replace McCarthy as speaker?

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After a historic vote to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker, GOP lawmakers are scouring their conference to see who could replace the California Republican as the top House leader.

Lawmakers voted 216-210 to remove McCarthy from his position after eight Republicans joined all Democrats in a historic rebuke to GOP leadership, leaving the House at a standstill until lawmakers can elect a new speaker. McCarthy later announced he would not seek reelection as speaker, sending Republicans into a scramble to find a new party leader, with several names being floated as possible options.


Republicans will hold a candidate forum next Tuesday before deciding on who to nominate, with the first speakership vote expected as soon as the following Wednesday.

Here’s who could be eyeing the speakership:

Steve Scalise

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) has been floated as one of the most obvious replacements to McCarthy, especially as the Louisiana Republican has served as the No. 2 Republican over the last ten months.

Scalise is reportedly considering the position, and several House members have called the majority leader to pledge their support, a source familiar confirmed to the Washington Examiner. Several lawmakers, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who introduced the motion to vacate McCarthy, have said they’d support Scalise should he run.

“I think the world of Steve Scalise, I think he’d make a phenomenal speaker,” Gaetz told reporters after the vote.

When asked if he plans on running for speaker, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) said, “I think Steve Scalise would make a great speaker.”

Kevin Hern

Members have also expressed interest in Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK) running for speaker, and he told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday he was considering it.

Hern has called several members to gauge their interest in supporting him for speaker, according to a source familiar. Hern also plans on attending the Texas GOP delegation lunch on Wednesday to speak with members considering a run for speaker.

Jim Jordan

Other members have floated Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) as a possible contender. A spokesperson for Jordan said his nomination would “be a decision for conference” to make.

Jordan has garnered a lot of support after helping lead House investigations into Hunter Biden and his business dealings over the last nine months, which may be why lawmakers are considering his nomination. Jordan has not publicly indicated any interest, and the Ohio Republican voted against removing McCarthy on Tuesday.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said Jordan would be his “first choice” should he run, and Gaetz has also said Jordan would be a good choice.


Other names in play

Some lawmakers have floated other names they would consider as speaker, including Emmer and Rep. Mark Green (R-TN). Emmer has already said he would not consider a bid.

A handful of members have suggested other names, with Reps. Troy Nehls (R-TX), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Greg Steube (R-FL) saying they would nominate former President Donald Trump as speaker. One does not need to be a House lawmaker in order to be elected as speaker, although it’s unlikely a non-member would be elected to the position.

© 2023 Washington Examiner
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