Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision not to seek the top job again after being ousted by members of his own party caught many by surprise on Tuesday evening — while also creating a power vacuum to take over the gavel.
GOP lawmakers have already started putting in calls to colleagues in the hours after McCarthy, R-Calif., stepped aside.
The House Republican conference is expected to have a candidate forum for House speaker on Tuesday next week followed by elections on Wednesday.
Here are some of the likely candidates according to Fox News Digital.
Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., is viewed by many rank-and-file Republicans as a natural “frontrunner,” one senior House GOP aide suggested.
Howerver, a major hurdle is Scalise’s health. He was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and has already undergone aggressive chemotherapy treatment.
It is likely a decision for him and his family to make. While there is no clear consensus yet, most of the conference would be “open” to Scalise as speaker, the aide said, adding that it was House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., who floated his name.
Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., sang Scalise’s praises to Fox News Digital and pointed out that he was “well respected” by both Republicans and Democrats.
“I consider him a great friend, and I think he is one of the few people who can effectively lead with a narrow majority through the next 18 months and ultimately secure a larger Republican majority in November 2024,” Scott said.
If Scalise should pass on the job, the senior GOP aide said Emmer is waiting in the wings as another likely candidate.
The senior GOP aide said that support for Emmer came from Republicans in tough electoral districts, being familiar with him as the previous cycle’s leader of the House GOP campaign arm.
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., when asked about Emmer’s earlier claim that he did not want to be speaker, told Fox News Digital, “He didn’t before.”
“It’s all happened so quick. Who’d have thought that the vote would have gone down 216 to 210,” Norman said, referencing the vote to oust McCarthy. “We thought we had three or four — and I voted for Kevin.”
Another “Kevin” in the mix is Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., the leader of the 175-member strong Republican Study Committee.
Hern has a good working relationship with both moderates and conservatives. A source told Fox News Digital that Hern has been floated as a “serious candidate.”
When asked about it, Hern told Fox News Digital that he has been approached by multiple members and that he would be interested in the role.
He all but announced his intent to run for speaker on Newsmax on Tuesday night.
“I’ve been asked by many people to consider running,” Hern said. “We need somebody who can unite the party, move forward through the appropriations bills, cut the spending, so we get inflation under control…[Americans] want real results and I believe I can deliver those if the people up here want to put me in that place.”
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, emerged as a favorite candidate among GOP hardliners on Tuesday night, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who triggered McCarthy’s ouster earlier this week.
“My mentor Jim Jordan would be great!” Gaetz posted on X, formerly Twitter, in response to a conservative who voted to keep McCarthy, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., calling Jordan his “first choice if he will run.”
Jordan has been one of three committee chairs leading a high-profile investigation into President Biden and his family.
A source familiar with Jordan’s thinking told Fox News Digital on Tuesday night that the Judiciary Chair has been reaching out to colleagues to gauge interest about a potential run for speaker.