Here are the Republican alternatives for speaker if McCarthy’s bid falls through
The race for House speaker has entered its fourth day and 10th vote — the most votes of any speaker race since 1923. The chances of Republican leader Kevin McCarthy winning the speakership appear increasingly dismal with a meagerly growing, yet relentless tribe of defectors holding out in their opposition of the California congressman.
Though McCarthy’s speakership ambitions have been obstructed by the ‘Never Kevin’ camp, a viable alternative to McCarthy has still not arisen. Below are the GOP members to watch as the race for speaker continues to unfold.
Rep.-elect Byron Donalds
During the first two votes for GOP speaker of the House, Rep.-elect Byron Donalds, R-Fla., gave his vote to McCarthy but switched gears and picked Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in the third round. Being the first member to change his vote, the congressman-elect was later nominated for speaker and quickly rounded up support by a majority of the 20 members who oppose McCarthy as speaker.
Donalds, who was first elected in 2020 to represent Florida’s 19th Congressional District, is entering his second term in the 118th Congress.
‘For the first time in history there have been two Black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House,’ Rep.-elect Chip Roy said while he nominated the Floridian on the House floor Wednesday.
If elected, Donalds, 44, would make history as the first Black Republican speaker of the House.
Rep.-elect Steve Scalise
Rep.-elect Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House and deputy to McCarthy, has been floated as a possible alternative as the race for House speaker has dragged on. Though Scalise has denied interest in the position, many still see the Louisiana congressman as a viable alternative to McCarthy.
The 57-year-old congressman is entering his eighth term in the House. Scalise captured the attention of the nation when he was shot in 2017 by a left-wing extremist during a baseball practice for the annual congressional baseball game.
On Tuesday, McCarthy appeared to laugh in response to a reporter’s question on the possibility of a Speaker Scalise.
Rep.-elect Elise Stefanik
Rep.-elect Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., the third-ranking Republican in the House, has not been nominated in the race for House speaker yet, but that hasn’t stopped some from including her on the list of potential alternatives to McCarthy.
However, she’s supported McCarthy for speaker in every vote at the start of the 118th Congress.
Stefanik, who has served as the chair of the House Republican Conference since 2021 when she replaced former Rep. Liz Cheney, became the youngest women ever elected to Congress at the time when she first entered the House in 2014.
Former President Donald Trump
On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump endorsed McCarthy’s nomination after three failed votes for speaker. Several of Trump’s close allies in the House are within the ‘Never Kevin’ camp and have been bashed for holding up the House speaker race.
Despite expressing support for McCarthy’s speaker bid, the former president was named a candidate on the House floor by Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., on Thursday during the House’s eighth vote.
Trump currently has his sights set on another term in the White House and is the only candidate in the 2024 presidential race after announcing his candidacy in mid-November.
Although Trump has not been officially nominated as a speaker candidate, several of the ‘Never Kevin’ members of Congress are vocal supporters of the former president and may decide to also give him their vote should the House continue to draw out their election. Though a non-House member has never been elected speaker, it is still possible for Trump to win the speakership and not serve as a representative.
Rep.-elect Jim Jordan
Despite expressing disinterest in the speaker role, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, was the second Republican candidate to be nominated in the closely watched speaker race.
After several representatives voted for Jordan on the first ballot for speaker on Tuesday, Jordan was officially nominated by Gaetz on the second ballot.
While many of the members seeking to block McCarthy’s speakership bid rallied support for Jordan, the Ohio representative pledged his support to McCarthy on the House floor and urged others to do the same.
‘It is a privilege. It is an opportunity. We owe it to them, the American people, the good people of this great country, to step forward, to come together, get a speaker elected so we can address these three things,’ Jordan said while nominating McCarthy.
Jordan is expected to become the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, where he as served as ranking member under the Democrat-controlled House.