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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s stunning ouster has kicked off a feverish race to succeed him, with fiery Rep. Jim Jordan telling reporters he’s running and the party’s Number Two leader Steve Scalise quietly making calls to test the waters. 

It was not clear Tuesday whether any person could obtain sufficient support to win over majority support in the Republican Conference and then make it through a vote on the House floor.

McCarthy wasn’t able to cling to his post after losing support of just eight members, thanks to a rule that allowed a single member to move to ‘vacate the chair’ to try to oust him.

Scalise, the House majority leader, emerged as an immediate contender in the hours after McCarthy went down. There have been tensions between the two men over a period of years, and lawmakers have long viewed Scalise as a potential successor. As the next leader in line, his elevation would bring a measure of continuity after a struggle that had Republican lawmakers publicly bemoaning the ‘chaos’ in the House.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) is gauging support to succeed Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker after Tuesday’s stunning vote to oust the Californian

Among those singing his praises has been Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz – although Scalise’s health problems could pose an obstacle. Scalise has been making calls to lawmakers to gauge support.

Rank-and-file members began to come out in support of both Scalise and Jordan on Wednesday=. 

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Rep. Mike Carey, R-Ohio, both announced they would support Jordan.

‘Our next Speaker should be someone with top-notch leadership skills and great experience. That someone is [Scalise], and I am proud to support him for Speaker,’ Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., wrote on X Wednesday morning.

Scalise has been receiving treatment for multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. He has been walking the Capitol hallways in a surgical mask, and occasionally uses a scooter on one knee to navigate the Capitol hallways. He was injured during the 2017 mass shooting near the Capitol.

He is set to meet with the powerful Texas delegation Wednesday. Lawmakers are set to gather next Wednesday to elect a new speaker, with many having already skipped down with no votes scheduled for the remainder of the week.

Also in the mix is Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a McCarthy ally who has fired up House conservatives with his fast-talking attacks on President Joe Biden and his probe of the president’s son Hunter.

Jordan’s confrontational posture was on display in the first hearing of the House impeachment inquiry last week, and his allies could push him as an alternative to Scalise. 

Jordan himself is keeping the option open. ‘I’ve had a lot of people reach out to us, asking me to do it, because I think we can,’ he told reporters upon leaving the speaker’s office Wednesday morning. ‘We’ll see if that happens, but I think I can.’

Allies are pushing Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan as a candidate for speaker. He led the first impeachment hearing last week and has probed Hunter Biden

‘A lot of people have been calling me about speaker,’ former President Donald Trump said inside a Manhattan courthouse Wednesday

McCarthy faced the historic result of the being the first House speaker to be removed subject to a motion to vacate the chair on Tuesday. He struggled for months to try to satisfy members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus while also funding the government.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., had long promised to bring forth the motion to vacate if McCarthy put a continuing resolution, or a stopgap funding bill to extend government funding at 2023 levels and prevent a government shutdown, on the House floor. 

On Saturday McCarthy did just that – and Gaetz kept his word. 

But Scalise, who Gaetz has name-checked as an option for speaker, voted for that continuing resolution. Jordan voted against it.  

Former President Donald Trump took a question on the tumultuous succession after blasting his prosecution inside a Manhattan courthouse Wednesday. He said Republicans have been phoning him as they try to find a way forward. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has said the only person she is backing for speaker is Trump. 

The speaker does not have to be an elected member – although House GOP Conference rules bar person under felony indictment with a sentence of longer than two years from serving. 

‘A lot of people have been calling me about speaker,’ Trump said. ‘All I can say is we’ll do whatever is best for the country and for the Republican Party.’

After an extraordinary 216-210 vote the office of the speaker was declared ‘vacant’ on Tuesday. That set up a high stakes closed door meeting of the House Republican Conference. There are numerous options both inside and outside McCarthy’s leadership team.

Among those who could succeed former Speaker McCarthy are members of his leadership team: from left Tom Emmer, Elise Stefanik, and Steve Scalise

Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.)

Scalise has long been considered a potential speaker and a rival to McCarthy even while serving as a member of his leadership team and the top Republican vote-counter. He announced in August that he had a form of blood cancer, multiple myeloma, and was receiving treatment. 

Although he isn’t far from McCarthy ideologically, some conservatives who lost faith in McCarthy say they maintain trust in Scalise. Among them is Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who precipitated McCarthy’s ouster. 

‘I am not going to pass over Steve Scalise just because he has blood cancer,’ Gaetz said on the eve of the vote.

‘I think the world of Steve Scalise,’ Gaetz said moments after McCarthy’s vote was gaveled down.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise gave an emphatic speech defending McCarthy before Tuesday’s vote

Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn)

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer has also been mentioned as a possible McCarthy successor. 

He is the favorite of a group of far-right members who helped line up the move to vacate the chair. Emmer, 62, previously ran the House GOP campaign arm, including in 2022 when Republicans seized control but underperformed expectations.

House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

Stefanik is the House GOP’s highest elected woman.  She is among those who blasted Donald Trump in 2016 following the release of the infamous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. 

She also once criticized his proposed Muslim ban, calling it ‘not who we are as a country.’ That was the prelude to a transformation where Stefanik became a fierce Trump loyalist. 

She lived up to that reputation when she ousted Trump nemesis former Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the GOP Conference.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) previously ran the party’s campaign arm. He is the choice by some conservatives who pushed out McCarthy

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) 

Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is a McCarthy advisor who helped him clear the hurdles to leadership during his January speaker’s race.

As soon as McCarthy was removed, McHenry was designated as temporary speaker, or Speaker Pro Tem.

It is a ceremonial role that will have him help oversee the election of a new speaker, a role he has also been mentioned for. He chairs the powerful Financial Services Committee.

The bespectacled Republican slammed down the gavel with force following his first action, sending the House into recess subject to the call of the chair. 

Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry now serves as Speaker Pro Tempore, and will preside over the election of a new speaker

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) 

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan has gained a following among conservatives as a pugnacious investigators and the first chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.

Jordan has also been a Kevin McCarthy ally. His fiery rhetoric was on display in the first first hearing of a House impeachment inquiry into Hunter Biden. He also chairs the House Judiciary Committee and a panel on the ‘weaponization’ of government including the FBI.

A number of additional names are already circulating. Among them is Louisiana Rep. Garrett Graves (R-La.), who advised McCarthy during his leadership struggles and chaired his Elected Leadership Committee. Another is House Rules Committee  Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who is well regarded within the conference for both his command of procedure and even-keeled temper. He has advised the past several Republican speakers.

Also mentioned is Oklahoma Republican Rep. Kevin Hern – chair of the Republicans’ largest caucus, the Republican Study Committee.

Though McCarthy said he would not run for speaker again, an ally could put his name forward for the job. Asked about that prospect Tuesday night, McCarthy brushed it off. ‘I think we should put the country first. This job was never about me.’  


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