fb-pixelMeet the Republicans running for House speaker - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Meet the Republicans running for House speaker

The House of Representatives voted for the third time on whether to elevate Jim Jordan to Speaker of the House on Friday.Chip Somodevilla/Getty

WASHINGTON — Nine Republicans have announced that they will run for speaker, after the party cast aside Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio as its latest nominee for the leadership post.

By Tuesday morning, seven were still in the running.

A flood of lawmakers began campaigning just hours after Republicans voted in a closed-door meeting to restart the nomination process after Jordan, his support ebbing, failed on a third-floor vote to win the speakership. The vote essentially ensured that the office of the speaker would remain empty for a third week.

The lawmakers vying for the job include veterans of the House, committee chairs, a top member of Republican leadership, and a sophomore. Virtually none have the kind of commanding national profile normally required of the speaker, who is not only second in line to the presidency but a key fund-raiser for their party’s efforts to protect and expand its majority.

They will have to navigate the same treacherous dynamics of a bitterly divided conference that the three men before them could not, leaving some Republicans openly questioning whether anyone can win a majority of votes on the House floor.

Advertisement



Some Republicans who had said they were considering running for the position Friday announced over the weekend that they would not seek the top job, including Representatives Jodey Arrington and Roger Williams, both of Texas.

All candidates except for two — Representatives Tom Emmer of Minnesota and Austin Scott of Georgia — voted to object to certifying President Biden’s 2020 victory in least one state.

All candidates except for three — Representatives Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, and Gary Palmer of Alabama — voted in support of a stopgap spending bill put forward by Kevin McCarthy, the speaker at the time, to avert a shutdown. Representative Byron Donalds of Florida was absent for the vote.

Advertisement



Here are the Republicans who are running for speaker.

Tom Emmer of Minnesota

Emmer, 62, is the highest-ranking Republican in the race. Endorsed by McCarthy, Emmer is the No. 3 Republican in the House, whose job is to “whip,” or count votes, to pass the speaker’s agenda.

He is considered among the front-runners, although he could encounter the same issues that dogged Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Republicans’ first failed nominee to replace McCarthy. Far-right Republican activists have accused Emmer of being insufficiently supportive of former president Donald Trump. And some moderates in the conference were privately unhappy that he did not back an effort to temporarily empower the acting speaker, Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina.

A former college ice hockey player and coach, Emmer has allies among both the conservative and the establishment wings of the party. He served two terms as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, helping Republican candidates across the country win elections and making inroads across the conference in the process.

Austin Scott of Georgia

Scott, 53, was a surprise candidate for the speaker nomination last week, garnering 81 votes in the conference against the better-known Jordan.

A small-business owner, Scott was the freshman class president for the 112th Congress.

He is also an ally of McCarthy and expressed outrage at the Californian’s ouster at the hands of far-right rebels, denouncing them as “nothing more than grifters.”

Byron Donalds of Florida

Donalds, 44, a member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, is a favorite of the party’s right wing. This is only his second term in Congress; he won his Naples-based district in 2020.

Advertisement



A native New Yorker, he received as many as 20 votes for speaker on the House floor in January during the prolonged fight that resulted in McCarthy emerging as speaker.

He has already picked up endorsements from his fellow Floridians.

Kevin Hern of Oklahoma

Hern, 61, is chair of the Republican Study Committee, a group committed to advancing conservative ideology that a majority of the Republican conference belongs to. The post often serves as a springboard to leadership positions. Jordan and Scalise, as well as former vice president Mike Pence, all have led the committee.

Hern has the conservative credentials that could assuage the hard-right lawmakers who bedeviled McCarthy, but he is seen as a more moderate option than Jordan.

Nicknamed the “McCongressman” for his previous ownerships of 18 McDonald’s franchises, Hern, a former aerospace engineer, was elected to the House in 2018.

Jack Bergman of Michigan

Few people outside of his district may be familiar with Bergman. A retired Marine Corps lieutenant general, Bergman, 76, represents Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the northern half of the Lower Peninsula.

A highly decorated naval aviator, Bergman has earned cachet with many of the mainstream conservatives — several of whom are military veterans themselves — who opposed Jordan’s candidacy and want an experienced leader at the helm. Bergman has presented himself as a temporary option who would work to “steady the ship” and return normalcy to the House.

Advertisement



“What we need right now is a speaker who has experience leading and can put ego aside to work together for the American people,” Bergman said in a statement. “We need a leader who shuns permanent power and recognizes the current crisis of leadership.”

Mike Johnson of Louisiana

Johnson, 51, is a lawyer who is a former chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

An evangelical Christian who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, Johnson was a key architect of Republicans’ objections to certifying the victory of Biden on Jan. 6, 2021. Many Republicans in Congress relied on his arguments.

He is an ally and supporter of Jordan who only considered moving forward with his own bid for speaker after Jordan fell short.

Pete Sessions of Texas

Sessions, 68, is the longest-serving member of Congress so far who is considering running for speaker, first serving from 1997-2019. After he was defeated in 2018 by a Democrat, Sessions ran for a seat in a neighboring district and prevailed, returning to Congress in 2021. He has previously served as chair of the House Republican campaign committee and as chair of the powerful Rules Committee.

Sessions participated in a 2019 campaign by Trump allies targeting Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine, writing to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that she should be fired for repeatedly expressing “disdain” for the Trump administration. (Trump recalled her in April of that year.)

Advertisement



This article originally appeared in The New York Times.