Seven Republicans Declare Candidacy for Speaker

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Seven Republicans have declared their candidacy for Speaker as Republicans struggle to find a path to claim the gavel ahead of a nomination deadline set for noon on Sunday.

House Republicans ended the candidacy of their nominee Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) Friday by secret ballot by a vote of 112-88.

The conference sent its members home for the weekend after setting a deadline of Sunday at noon ET for candidates to declare.

WATCH — Kevin McCarthy: Jim Jordan No Longer Nominee for Speaker of the House After Vote


Republicans will reassemble Monday night for a candidate forum with a vote expected Tuesday.

Here are the candidates who have declared so far, listed in alphabetical order.

Jack Bergman (MI)

Bergman might be the least well known Congressman on this list, but he may have the most impressive resume. A retired Marine Corps lieutenant general, Bergman is the highest ranking combat veteran to serve in Congress in history. He began floating his openness to serving in a caretaker capacity through the end of this Congress when Republican struggles to secure a Speaker on the floor began.

To expand beyond his support in the Michigan delegation, Bergman will look to his colleagues on the Armed Services Committee and leverage his military career and desire to “steady” the conference through the rest of this Congress.

Byron Donalds (FL)

Donalds is an intriguing candidate who briefly ran for Speaker in January, winning support among Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holdouts. An effective messenger unafraid to appear on networks hostile to conservatives, Donalds has been an up-and-comer since arriving in Washington 2021. He has considered running for Florida governor in the future as well.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 30: Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) shakes hands with former U.S. President Donald Trump during the Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors national summit at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on June 30, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The self-labeled "parental rights" summit is bringing school board hopefuls from across the country where attendees will receive training and hear from Republican presidential candidates which include former U.S. President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. The summit, which is being held in an overwhelmingly Democratic Philadelphia, has drawn protestors since the event was announced due to their pushing of book bans accusing schools of ideological overreach, including teaching about race, gender, and sexuality. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) shakes hands with former U.S. President Donald Trump during the Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors national summit at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on June 30, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Donalds likely brings the backing of the House Freedom Caucus, of which he is the only member to declare his candidacy, and the large Florida delegation. Establishment Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who also cast two votes last week for Donalds for Speaker, has already endorsed his fellow Floridian, an indication of Donalds’ broad appeal inside the conference.

Tom Emmer (MN)

The highest-ranking Republican on this list, Emmer was elected Majority Whip after leading the National Republican Congressional Committee for four years. Both positions provide institutional backup helpful in a Speaker run.

Emmer is seen as highly ambitious by many colleagues and had announced he would seek the Majority Leader post when Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), current majority leader, had secured his ultimately failed Speaker nomination.

The hardworking Emmer has been endorsed by ally Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) but reportedly has opposition from many allies of President Donald Trump, both inside and outside of Congress. That challenge will be difficult to overcome, particularly if Trump himself puts his thumb on the scale.

Kevin Hern (OK)

Hern is the chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest conservative bloc in the House. The Oklahoman found success owning and operating McDonald’s franchises before winning his first election to the House in 2018.

Like Emmer Hern declared his intent to run for Majority Leader after Scalise won his briefly held Speaker nomination. Other conservatives, including Scalise and Jordan, have leveraged the RSC chairmanship to wider success. Hern looks to do the same by leveraging the relationships he has built in a short time in Congress.

Mike Johnson (LA)

The Republican Conference Vice Chair, Johnson has used his role on the Judiciary Committee to showcase his abilities as an effective messenger and foil to the Biden Administration. The smooth attorney has been widely thought to harbor greater ambitions, hardly an uncommon trait on this list.

Conference has traditionally maintained geographic diversity at the leadership level, so a fellow Louisianan in Steve Scalise (R-LA) currently serving as Majority Leader probably does not help Johnson. However, Johnson burned up the phone lines before announcing his candidacy Saturday, so he appears to have a plan to make a strong run at the gavel.

Austin Scott (GA)

Scott was relatively unknown even in Washington before declaring a last-minute candidacy against Jordan over a week ago. The seventh-term Congressman garnered 81 votes to Jordan’s 124, although it is unknown how many of those votes were pro-Scott or protest votes over the process, Jordan himself, or any of the variety of grievances Republicans have held for weeks.

Scott is a policy wonk, particularly on agricultural issues, who has slowly begun doing more media. He will need to show to his colleagues he can step out of the shadows to serve as the face of the conference.

Pete Sessions (TX)

Sessions was chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee and widely seen as a potential Speaker before losing a tough election in 2018. Undeterred, Sessions ran and won in another congressional district two years later.

Sessions will likely have the support of the large Texas delegation, assuming no other candidates from the Lonestar State enter the race. That support alone is enough to make him a player.

Follow Bradley Jaye on Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.


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