More Republicans Enter House Speaker Race After Rep. Jordan Stalls Out

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
October 21, 2023Congress
More Republicans Enter House Speaker Race After Rep. Jordan Stalls Out
U.S. House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) makes his way to a Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Sept. 20, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The race for House speaker has heated up as two more Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring as the lower chamber remains in limbo since Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted from the role three weeks ago.

Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Mike Johnson (R-La.) have entered the race, according to separate letters each has written to Republican colleagues as the contest moves forward to determine who gets to wield the gavel.

“I’m running for Speaker of the House to bring our conference together and get back to work,” Mr. Emmer said in a post on X on Saturday morning, in which he shared a Dear Colleague letter that promises to “fight like hell” to preserve the GOP majority in the lower chamber and to deliver on a conservative agenda.

He pledged to deliver strong foreign policy and a better economy, while vowing to address the “untenable debt and spending crisis” that he blamed on President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats.

“Our constituents who sent us all to Washington to lead are counting on us to undo the damage Democrats have done and expand our conservative majority,” he wrote, asking for their support and vowing to “continue our mission to correct the course of our great nation.”

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U.S. House Majority Whip Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) watches as the House of Representatives votes for a third time on whether to elevate Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to speaker of the House in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 20, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Mr. Johnson, the other newly minted contender, took to X to share a Dear Colleague letter of his own announcing his run.

The Louisiana Republican captioned his post simply: “I’m in!”

Portraying himself as a “team player and a bridge-builder with endless energy and a unique mix of skills and experience,” Mr. Johnson pledged to serve all House Republicans and “fight ceaselessly for our core conservative principles and policies.”

“I believe the survival and future of our republic may well be decided over the next twelve months,” he wrote, pointing to an “overrun” southern border and America’s adversaries “emboldened” in part because President Biden “is clearly incapable of leading and the Senate is unwilling.”

Americans’ faith in government has been “nearly lost” as powerful federal agencies have been “weaponized against the people and their faith,” he wrote.

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Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) in Washington on June 14, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The two new contenders’ entry into the fray comes a day after Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) quest to become speaker was blocked as his fellow Republicans revoked their support for his candidacy after a third, failed vote on the House floor.

Mr. McCarthy has endorsed Mr. Emmer, who has been called a “Trump hater” by Steve Bannon, the host of the “War Room” podcast and a one-time adviser to former President Donald Trump.

What’s Next?

As for as next steps, Republicans plan to hold a candidate forum on Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. and vote on a nominee at 9 a.m. the following day.

“We need space and time for candidates to talk to other members,” Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) told reporters after the Friday meeting.

Mr. McHenry said that while the House is not able to conduct business on the floor, committees are still at work.

“Our committees are working with the administration. And the goal there is for our committees is to be ready to respond legislatively once we have a duly elected speaker of the House,” Mr. McHenry said.

At least a half-dozen Republican representatives are still weighing bids for House speaker, with the new hopefuls expected to declare their respective candidacies by Sunday.

In addition to Mr. Emmer and Mr. Johnson, Republican members that have thrown their hats in the ring are Reps. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas), and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).

GOP members exploring a run include Reps. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.) and Jodey Arrington (R-Texas).

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Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) leaves a closed-door House Republican meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 20, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Mr. Hern was among the first to declare his speakership bid. He leads the Republican Study Committee, a large conservative caucus with around 170 members.

“We need a different type of leader who has a proven track record of success, which is why I’m running for Speaker of the House,” the Oklahoma congressman, who was first elected in 2018, said after the closed-door meeting on Friday.

Mr. Donalds, a Floridian member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, declared his candidacy on Friday.

“My sole focus will be securing our border, funding our government responsibly, advancing a conservative vision for the House of Representatives and the American people, and expanding our Republican majority,” Mr. Donalds said in a statement posted on X.

Mr. Donalds has acted as a go-between for moderates and conservatives in the GOP conference. He was also voted as a protest candidate during Mr. Jordan’s failed bids by some holdouts.

As speaker, Mr. Donalds said that “every voice” in the GOP conference will “have a seat at the table.”

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Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) leaves a closed-door House Republican meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 20, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Mr. Bergman, a retired 3-star Marine general, initially said on Thursday that he didn’t “aspire to be in” the speaker job, but he decided to declare his bid upon Mr. Jordan’s third failed attempt.

“My hat is in the ring, and I feel confident I can win the votes where others could not,” Mr. Bergman said in a statement. “I have no special interests to serve; I’m only in this to do what’s best for our nation and to steady the ship for the 118th Congress.”

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Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) at the Cannon Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 16, 2018. (Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Mr. Scott lost against Mr. Jordan in an internal conference vote earlier this month in a surprise challenge.

The Georgia Republican, who ultimately backed Mr. Jordan as the speaker nominee, immediately announced his bid once Mr. Jordan was ousted.

Mr. Meuser, who is still weighing his bid, said Friday that if he decides to run, his message “will be focused on politics of inclusion.”

“Every Member of the Republican Conference needs to be a part of policy making, legislation, and communications,” he said in a post on X. “That feeling of ownership builds a team culture, which is needed as we move our party forward.”

Mr. Sessions has also declared his entry into the race, with his officer saying in a statement that “Congressman Sessions believes he can forge a positive path as a conservative leader who can unite the Conference.”

Mr. Arrington, a member from Texas who is chair of the House Budget Committee, told reporters he is “seriously considering” running for speaker.

“I would say I am seriously considering and still praying about it,” he said on Friday following Mr. Jordan’s third failed bid.

Lawrence Wilson contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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