GOP speaker chaos: 9 Republicans will battle for top post

Nine Republicans are now officially on the speaker list for the House GOP, as they try to unify their split party after nearly three weeks of being without a leader.

The field is the most crowded since Kevin McCarthy, former Speaker of the House, was ousted 19 days ago. In the latest round, current GOP leaders like Vice Chair Mike Johnson and Majority Whip Tom Emmer are running. Jack Bergman, R-Mich.) and other rank and file members are also surprising. On Sunday, Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Alabama, who is the GOP policy chair and was added at the last minute, caused some eyebrows.

It’s not clear that any of the aspirants for the speakership will be able get the 217 needed votes. As Republicans prepare for another week of self inflicted drama they are unable to pass legislation to avoid a government shutdown.

“I think any one of them could be very close to 217.” “The question is who can cross the finish line,” Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., told POLITICO. He was referring to candidates such as Reps. Byron Donalds and Kevin Hern.

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Some Republicans are subtly looking forward to the next round, highlighting the challenges. Budget Chair Jodey arrington (R-Texas), encouraged by his fellow Texans to run, announced on Sunday that he will not be running.

Arrington told POLITICO: “I’m standing aside for this round.” “I hope we get there.”

All nine members of the GOP will be heard by the full conference on Monday evening for a forum. All will be under pressure to make a pitch which can unite a House GOP which is divided and exasperated. In a letter published on Sunday, Rep. Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania acknowledged the larger conference dynamics.

Meuser stated, “I have always been a strong advocate for teamwork. I believe that the greater good is more important than individual gains.”

The Republicans will vote in secret on Tuesday morning. They are expected to narrow down the nine candidates to just two through several rounds of voting. The final winner of the vote will be the third speaker-designate for this conference since McCarthy’s ouster earlier in the month.

There was a new tumult at the candidate forum on Monday as a result of the protracted battle.

This is my 10th term as a member of Congress. Michael McCaul, R-Texas’ Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, told ABC News that this was probably the most embarrassing thing he had ever seen. “We are essentially shutting down as a Government.”

McCarthy, who lost his gavel in early this month, after working with Democrats, to avoid a shutdown, called the chaos, “embarrassing”, for both the party and country. He stressed the importance of electing Emmer, his No. Next week, Emmer will be his No. 3 deputy.

McCarthy, on NBC’s Meet the Press: “He is head and shoulders above everyone else who wants to run.” “We must get him elected by this week so that we can move forward and focus not only on this party but also on what the country most needs.”

The candidates face a near-impossible challenge: they must win both the internal vote within the party and the floor vote, which was the last vote for speaker that the GOP made. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio lost after three rounds. The GOP’s choice for speaker can afford to lose only four members when the vote is on the floor. Jordan started with 20 GOP defectors, but that number grew to 25 in the third round. There was a threat of even more if Jordan had gone on to a 4th ballot.

First, they will have to win the internal vote of the House GOP — a difficult task with nine candidates.

McCarthy acknowledged that Emmer will have to fight an uphill battle in order to gain the necessary support. However, he said the majority whip was the “best person for the position” because of his legislative and political experience gained as a leader.

Emmer faces a major obstacle with the GOP base, however: former president Donald Trump and allies are opposed to his bid. This is a throwback from the Minnesota Republican’s whip race where he found himself at odds Donald Trump Jr.

McCarthy stated that “this is not the time to learn as a speaker.” Tom would be able walk in and do the job.

Second-term Donalds, the youngest candidate, insisted that his lack experience would actually help to create “unity” in the conference. Donalds told Fox News that any GOP unity “would start with a new voice in leadership.”

Donalds has already gained support from two important groups: the House Freedom Caucus, and a significant part of the Florida delegation. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., one of Jordan’s holdouts in the House Freedom Caucus, endorsed Donalds as speaker. Hern, who leads the Republican Study Committee (the largest of the “five families” in the GOP conference), estimated that he has conducted approximately 200 calls and more are planned.

Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., said on Fox News that he would support Byron Donalds this round. He added that Donalds’s two-term tenure as a congressman will make him a national figure who can raise money for Republicans. He voted against Jordan in all three votes last week.

Hern stated that if Republicans do not think they can get to 217 then “we should just give the gavel over to Hakeem Jeffreys, so we have to work hard.”

Republicans have not yet stated how soon they plan to vote. Others want to wait until their nominee has 217 votes in order to avoid a messy public battle. Not all candidates have pledged to support the speaker-designate, so it is possible that a small group of House Republicans will block the nominee on Tuesday.

This dynamic has caused frustration among House Republicans. This also fueled some opposition to Jordan. Holdouts were subjected to intense pressure but resisted taking a step that they felt would reward the group who ousted McCarthy.

Steve Womack, R-Ark, said that there are “way too many free agents” and not enough team players. One of the Republicans opposed to Jordan said that “the speaker’s race” is only one manifestation of this dynamic.