Updated Oct 23, 2023 - Politics & Policy

House GOP speaker race balloons to eight candidates

Chart: Axios Visuals
Chart: Axios Visuals

House Republicans will hear Monday from nine lawmakers vying to be the next speaker of the House, with a candidate forum that ushers in a grueling day of voting Tuesday.

Why it matters: Candidates will be given just minutes to pitch themselves as the best option to unify the fractured House GOP, which is going on three weeks without a speaker.

  • The nine candidates for speaker: House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Mike Johnson (R-La.), Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), and Austin Scott (R-Ga.).
  • Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.) dropped out of the race on Monday evening.
  • Candidates are slated for two-minute speeches, followed by a 90-minute Q&A segment and one-minute closing speeches, according to a source familiar with the format.
  • In the previous two forums, each candidate got half an hour to lay out their case.

Between the lines: "I think there's obviously two tiers of, candidates — I'm sure everybody will say the same thing. It seems to me it's Emmer, Johnson, Hern, Donald's race til the end," a senior GOP lawmaker told Axios.

  • "I'm not really sure who has a leg up on any of that because everybody's got different factions and issues, so we'll see," the lawmaker said.

What they're saying: "The pressure now I feel like from the grassroots is, you guys look like idiots, you don't have your act together, just get this done — we need a leader. So I feel like that it's not about personality, it's about the general lack of cohesion and the appearance of chaos," one lawmaker told Axios.

  • But others are more skeptical of the conferences' ability to unify behind the next nominee, with one member arguing certain candidates "will not get the votes" on the floor.

The bottom line: GOP lawmakers have struggled to rally around a candidate as tensions between the different factions have spiked since the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the failure of speaker nominees Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan.

Editor's note: This article was updated to note that Dan Meuser exited the race.

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