Updated Oct 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

What to know about new House Speaker Mike Johnson

Rep. Mike Johnson outside a House Republican Conference election meeting on Oct. 24. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) was elected speaker of the House on Wednesday after a 22-day deadlock that saw three previous Republican candidates nominated and then defeated on the House floor.

Why it matters: The four-term conservative is both short-tenured and little-known relative to others who have risen to the speakership, but he became a consensus choice inside a deeply divided Republican caucus over the past 24 hours. He'll now have to try to keep that caucus united behind him heading into some bruising legislative fights.

Catch up quick: Johnson finished second to House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) in an internal ballot on Tuesday to replace the ousted Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

  • But Emmer withdrew his candidacy just hours later.
  • Johnson then emerged from a fresh round of voting on Tuesday night and was elected by the full House on Wednesday, with all the Republicans who cast ballots voting for him.

What is Johnson's background?

Johnson, 51, has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2016, and is currently serving his fourth term in the House.

  • He represents Louisiana's fourth congressional district, which includes nearly 760,000 residents. Johnson won the seat with the largest margin of victory in his region in more than 50 years, according to a biography on his website.

Of note: After earning both a bachelor's degree and a law degree from Louisiana State University, Johnson spent nearly 20 years practicing constitutional law.

  • Johnson then served in the Louisiana Legislature from February 2015 to January 2017.
  • He and his wife, Kelly Johnson, have been married since 1999 and have four children.

Where does he fit into the GOP landscape?

Johnson was unanimously re-elected as as vice chair of the House Republican Conference for a second time last year.

  • He also serves as a deputy whip for the 118th Congress, and currently sits on the House Judiciary Committee and on the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

What he's saying: In a letter to colleagues over the weekend, Johnson said it's the duty of House Republicans to "chart a new path" and that he has a "clear vision and plan for how to lead."

  • He added that until colleagues reached out to encourage him to seek the nomination, "I had never contacted one person about this, and I have never before aspired to the office."

Between the lines: A well-liked member of leadership, Johnson is widely viewed as a policy-oriented and principled conservative — if not a bit milquetoast, Axios' Zachary Basu and Juliegrace Brufke report.

  • A social conservative, Johnson is a vocal opponent of gay marriage and a supporter of bans on abortion. He typically votes in line with his Republican colleagues and has a 92% rating from the American Conservative Union and 90% from Heritage Action, per NBC News.

Who's supporting him?

Johnson came in second place out of nine candidates in Tuesday's voting, indicating wide support, mainly among conservatives.

  • After he emerged as the nominee later in the day, most members quickly lined up behind him.

What's Johnson's relationship with Trump?

Johnson is known to be a Trump ally and was a staunch defender of the former president during the impeachment hearings.

  • The Louisiana Republican led the amicus brief signed by more than 100 House Republicans in support of a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 election results in four swing states.
  • The team of former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a driving force of the House Jan. 6 committee and an outspoken Trump critic, highlighted his involvement by circulating a quote recently from the New York Times that called him "the most important architect of the Electoral College objections," NBC reports.

Go deeper: GOP's accelerating doom loop deposes Tom Emmer in record four hours

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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