Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Nine Republicans will lobby to become the next House speaker when their conference meets behind closed doors Monday evening.

The wannabe speakers rushed to declare their candidacy within hours of a failed bid by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to win the gavel in three successive floor votes last week.

The GOP is facing mounting pressure from the Senate, White House — and American public — to resolve the crisis caused by the ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

All nine current candidates supported Jordan from the House floor, but there were 25 holdouts who kept the caucus from electing a new speaker.

Jordan, a founding member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, was unable to unite factions of the Republican conference that have been at war since McCarthy’s departure Oct. 3. McCarthy was voted out by eight GOP members for passing a continuing resolution to fund the government on a bipartisan basis to avoid a federal shutdown.

(From left) Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) and Nick LaLota (R-NY) gather to talk during last week’s failed votes for a new House speaker.CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
A source familiar with the House speaker situation said, “There’s a growing frustration with leadership from every wing” that the pols can’t get the job done and just elect someone.ZUMAPRESS.com

Here are the candidates currently in the running:

Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.)

The no. 3 House Republican is the presumptive frontrunner in the speakership contest but will face headwinds from both moderate and more conservative members, sources told The Post.

Emmer spoke with former President Donald Trump by phone over the weekend in an apparent effort to win over hardliners, a conversation that went “well,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) revealed Monday on his podcast.

Trump, in New Hampshire to sign up for the state’s presidential primary, said of Emmer, “He’s my biggest fan now because he called me yesterday and told me he’s my biggest fan.

“I’m sort of trying to stay out of that as much as possible, but they’ll get it straightened out,” the current presidential candidate added of the House controversy. “There’s a lot of tumult, but we’ll see what happens.”

But a Republican source told The Post, “One phone call is not going to change the fact that President Trump and his inner-circle are well aware” of Emmer’s “well-documented Never Trumpism.”

The source pointed to the whip withholding his endorsement for Trump in 2024, declining to “forcibly defend” the former president against prosecutions brought by special counsel Jack Smith and his decision to certify the 2020 election.

Rep. Tom Emmer is the presumptive frontrunner in the speakership contest but will face headwinds from both moderate and more conservative members, sources told The Post.AP

A House GOP aide said some members also remain undecided about the whip given his failure to secure a greater majority for their caucus in the midterm elections in November.

“Emmer botched the red wave,” the aide pointed out.

Another source told The Post, “There’s a growing movement to deny Tom Emmer the speakership,” noting a Breitbart News report that revealed at least 12 members had already come out in opposition to the majority whip.

The source added that Emmer had also lost the confidence of social conservatives and mainstream moderates for his voting record — despite an early endorsement from McCarthy hours after announcing his candidacy.

However, many moderates, including members of the GOP New York delegation, will likely back Emmer, another House GOP aide told The Post.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.)

The sophomore Florida Republican is picking up a large portion of his support from lawmakers representing his home state and backers in the 49-member House Freedom Caucus, a source told The Post.

Several of those 20 Florida GOP members have already publicly backed Donalds, including Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Gimenez, Cory Mills and Mike Waltz.

Donalds could be the first-ever African-American House speaker but will first have to persuade his caucus that his age — he turns 45 on Oct. 28 — and relative lack of experience are no impediment.AP

Reps. Kat Cammack, Bill Posey, Anna Paulina Luna, Brian Mast and Scott Franklin are also expected to support elevating their fellow Florida Republican to the speakership.

Donalds could be the first-ever African-American House speaker but will first have to persuade his caucus that his age — he turns 45 on Oct. 28 — and relative lack of experience are no impediment.

Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.)

Hern, another potential frontrunner, kicked off his speakership bid with a pledge to “listen” to the various groups that have been at odds with each other since the start of the 118th Congress.

He will have a head start as chairman of the nearly 180-member Republican Study Committee, the largest House GOP caucus, and has also appealed to fiscal hawks by stating his opposition to “omnibus spending bills” in a Monday “Dear Colleague” letter.

Hern, another potential frontrunner, kicked off his speakership bid with a pledge to “listen” to the various groups that have been at odds with each other since the start of the 118th Congress.AFP via Getty Images

Despite his appetite as a former businessman for balancing budgets, he shelled out some of his own funds to curry favor with his colleagues by delivering McDonald’s burgers to them along with the letter asking for their support.

The move was an apparent nod to his “McCongressman” nickname for his past as a McDonald’s franchisee. Hern once owned 18 of the fast-food restaurants.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.)

Johnson is also considered a potential frontrunner as vice chair of the Republican conference, but as with Hern and Donalds, he still lacks a large national profile, potentially hindering his chances of becoming House speaker.

He has yet to receive any endorsements. One source stressed that personality was a driving factor for many members in deciding which candidate to support.

Johnson is also considered a potential frontrunner as vice chair of the Republican conference, but as with Hern and Donalds, still lacks a large national profile, potentially hindering his chances of becoming House speaker.Getty Images

“Hern is not personable and not well-liked,” the source told The Post, mentioning that the former businessman “alludes a lot to his wealth and doesn’t know how to speak to members.

“Johnson is well-liked but not personable,” whereas “Donalds is personable and well-liked but doesn’t have the experience,” the source said.

That could shift GOP lawmakers to consider veteran alternatives.

Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.)

Bergman, a former naval aviator and commanding general in the Marine Corps Reserve, has already won over all but one of the House Republicans representing Michigan.

Reps. John James, who voted against Jordan on the floor last week, as well as Tim Walberg, Lisa McClain and John Moolenaar have all endorsed Bergman as their speaker nominee.

Bergman, a former naval aviator and commanding general in the Marine Corps Reserve, has already won over all but one of his fellow House Republicans representing Michigan.CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Michigan delegation in a statement touted the general as a “leader best suited to right the ship of the Republican conference and help lead the House through the 118th Congress.

“He isn’t seeking a long-term leadership post but is willing to help build our conference, pass critical legislation, and keep our commitment to the American people,” they said.

Only GOP Michigan Rep. Bill Huizenga has declined to endorse Bergman.

Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.)

Scott lost a conference vote in mid-October to Jordan in a short-lived bid for the speakership after House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) withdrew and is looking to regain some of that support from the Republican majority this time around.

Scott is one of two speaker candidates, along with Emmer, who fully certified the 2020 presidential election that gave the White House to President Biden over Trump, likely alienating him from several right-wing members of the House GOP conference.

Scott lost a conference vote in mid-October to Jordan in a short-lived bid for the speakership, but he is mounting a second try.Getty Images

Scott is also joining an effort spearheaded by GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to sign a pledge to support the eventual House speaker designee on the floor Tuesday, Politico reported, further aligning himself with conference moderates.

Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.)

Meuser, who is serving his third term in the House, also signed the unity pledge put out by Stefanik and is seeking to distinguish himself from more establishment candidates.

In an interview with CNN on Monday, he opposed calls from Biden and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to tether US aid for Ukraine and Israel — a stance that would placate more conservative members.

Meuser, who is serving his third term in the House, is seeking to distinguish himself from more establishment candidates.CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

“I think it’s wrong,” Meuser said, while also advocating for an end to continuing resolutions to fund the government.

“We need to make bills simpler,” he said.

Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.)

Along with Hern and Johnson, Palmer voted against the Sept. 30 continuing resolution to fund the government until Nov. 17, likely winning support from fiscal conservatives in his conference.

As chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, he is the no. 5 GOP member in the House and could also pick up more votes as a member of the Freedom Caucus.

Along with Hern and Johnson, Palmer voted against the Sept. 30 continuing resolution to fund the government until Nov. 17, likely winning support from fiscal conservatives in his conference.CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Palmer nevertheless lacks the name status of other speaker contenders, making it an uphill battle for him to win caucus support.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas)

Sessions, who is in his eighth term in the House, has served as chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee and House Rules Committee, giving him the clout necessary to make his case for the role of speaker.

He told CNN on Monday that he “had a polite conversation” with Trump over the weekend but said he was not seeking the former president’s endorsement for the role.

“He and I wanted to have a clear understanding about why I’m running and what I intend to do,” Sessions said. “If he is the [GOP presidential] nominee, I think he thinks he can work with me. If he is the nominee, I think I can work with him.” 

Sessions, who is in his eighth term in the House, has served as chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee and House Rules Committee, giving him the clout necessary to make his case for the role of speaker.CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Trump endorsed Jordan but was unable to persuade more than 20 holdouts who sank the Judiciary chairman’s bid in three rounds of voting on the House floor.

The former president had also declined to dissuade eight Republicans from voting McCarthy out of the speakership weeks before.

Several House Republicans remain livid with the eight members who joined with 208 Democrats to oust McCarthy — and they withheld votes for Jordan on three ballots to punish the hardliners who supported the Ohio Republican.

Others vented that Scalise didn’t get a fair shot at the speakership before Jordan stepped in, prompting them to deny the Judiciary Committee chairman the 217 votes needed to become speaker.

The fracas has left many rank-and-file GOP members disappointed with their chosen leaders — and searching eagerly for an alternative.

“There’s a growing frustration with leadership from every wing,” a source familiar with the situation told The Post, adding that most House Republicans have grown tired of “the dysfunction.

“They all backstab each other; they all hate each other,” the source said.

Moderate Republicans and a handful of Democrats have discussed empowering Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) in the interim to pass legislation until the GOP conference can agree on a way forward.Getty Images

Meanwhile, moderate Republicans and a handful of Democrats have discussed empowering Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) in the interim to pass legislation until the GOP conference can agree on a way forward.

McHenry has presided over the House as it seeks its next speaker, while expressing openness to doing more if the lower chamber resolves to grant him that authority.

But McHenry told reporters in a brief press conference Friday that it was his “goal” to elect a new speaker by the end of this week and return to his chair on the House Financial Services Committee.

A new USA Today/Suffolk University survey found that an overwhelming number of Americans from both sides of the political aisle are fed up with the Republican gridlock in the House and expect the caucus to resolve the speakership crisis.

Each of the speaker candidates confirmed by Stefanik on Sunday will be allotted a two-minute opening speech at Monday’s closed-door forum and one-minute closing speech, sources told The Post.

All potential nominees will also field questions from Republican caucus members for 90 minutes during the bulk of the session.

On Tuesday, the Republican conference will reconvene to put the candidates up for a lightning round of votes at 9 a.m.

“Remember, it’s ‘sudden death,’” one source said. “The candidate with the least votes is eliminated with each round until someone gets 50 +1.”

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