An early look at possible successors to McCarthy for House speaker

Oct 4, 2023, 8:00 AM | Updated: Oct 5, 2023, 9:35 am

(CNN) — Following Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster as House speaker, names have started to emerge as possible successors to take over the gavel.

With McCarthy announcing Tuesday night he will not be running for the speakership, the race is already underway.

There is no clear alternative to McCarthy who would have the support needed to win – any speaker hopefuls will need to find 218 votes, or the majority of lawmakers present and voting.

Some of the names being floated for the open role also emerged in January as hardline conservatives looked to block McCarthy from taking the gavel after the GOP won the House. While McCarthy ultimately won the fight, Tuesday’s ouster offers the opportunity for fresh consideration of candidates.

Here’s a look at his potential replacements:

Tom Emmer

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer is one of the lawmakers to watch as GOP lawmakers scramble to elect a new speaker, with some members floating the Minnesota Republican as a top contender for the job.

Emmer, however, appeared to signal support for Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise on Tuesday night. As he exited a GOP meeting, he told reporters, “Steve Scalise has been a friend for a long time. He would be a great speaker.” Asked if he would nominate Scalise for speaker, Emmer said, “I think I made it clear.”

The Minnesota lawmaker was first elected to Congress in 2014 and became majority whip earlier this year. Emmer, who lost a race for Minnesota governor in 2010, was a state representative from 2004-2008. He sits on the House Financial Services Committee.

Kevin Hern

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Kevin Hern, who chairs a conservative group known as the Republican Study Committee, is taking a run for speaker “very seriously,” a source familiar said, adding that multiple members have approached him.

Republicans hardliners in the House Freedom Caucus have floated Hern’s name as a possible nominee for speaker in meetings and other private conversations over the past weeks. During the deadlocked race for speaker in January, Hern, whose committee wields a large bloc of GOP members, received a couple of anti-McCarthy protest votes in the eighth round of voting.

Hern was sworn-in to the House in 2018 after a career working in various leadership position at McDonalds, according to his House biography. He also worked as an aerospace engineer. Hern is a member of the House Ways and Means committee and co-chairs the Small Business and Franchise caucuses.

Jim Jordan

Some conservative Republicans are encouraging Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan to run, and he is open to doing so, a GOP lawmaker told CNN. The chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee was previously nominated by conservative hardliners in January during the GOP fight for the speakership.

He kept open the option of running for speaker Tuesday, telling CNN, “It’s a conference decision.”

Once a thorn in the side of party leadership, known for his ultra-partisan rhetoric during the investigation into the Benghazi attacks and both impeachments of Trump, Jordan became a key ally to McCarthy and looked to position himself earlier this year as a serious committee chairman. He has used his perch on the Judiciary Committee to probe Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for their indictments of Trump earlier this year as well as the Justice Department for its investigation into Hunter Biden.

Jordan, who is a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, supported lawsuits to invalidate the 2020 presidential election results and voted not to certify the Electoral College results.

Steve Scalise

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who serves as House majority leader, has emerged as a possible candidate for House speaker with a source familiar telling CNN that he has started reaching out to members about a potential bid.

While the No. 2 House Republican rejected calls from hardliners to challenge McCarthy for the speakership in January, it had been widely expected he would run for the position in the case that McCarthy dropped out. When asked if he would be up for the job Tuesday, Scalise said, “I feel great.”

“No matter who’s gonna be the next speaker, the challenges still remain but I think the opportunity is there to continue moving forward and we set a precedent last week for how to start coming together to get appropriations bills done,” he said.

The former computer systems engineer, first elected to Congress in May 2008, represents a ruby red district that covers most of New Orleans’ suburbs. He faced backlash in 2014 for giving a speech to a White supremacist group founded by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke in 2002. Scalise later apologized, explaining in a statement that it was a mistake he regretted.

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An early look at possible successors to McCarthy for House speaker