Oklahoma Congressman Among 9 Republicans Vying For House Speaker

Nine Republican lawmakers have declared they're running for speaker, as the House ends its third week of legislative paralysis. The Republican conference will hear from the nine members at a candidate forum Monday evening and is expected to vote by secret ballot on a new nominee Tuesday morning. 

Monday, October 23rd 2023, 4:24 pm

By: CBS News

Nine Republican lawmakers have declared they're running for speaker, as the House ends its third week of legislative paralysis. The Republican conference will hear from the nine members at a candidate forum Monday evening and is expected to vote by secret ballot on a new nominee Tuesday morning. 

House Republicans have been working to elect a speaker since Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted at the start of the month. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise withdrew his candidacy on Oct. 12 after receiving the nomination on Oct. 11. Rep. Jim Jordan was dropped as the nominee Friday after he lost a third ballot for the speakership. 

Who are the nine candidates for speaker of the House?

Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York said there was a noon deadline on Sunday for representatives to announce their candidacies for speaker. 

The candidates who met that deadline were Reps. Jack Bergman, Byron Donalds, Tom Emmer, Kevin Hern, Mike Johnson, Dan Meuser, Gary Palmer, Austin Scott and Pete Sessions. 

All of the candidates, except for Reps. Emmer and Scott, voted to decertify the 2020 election in the hours after the Capitol riot. Emmer, however, supported a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas in December 2020 to overturn the results of the presidential election in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan — all states that Trump lost.

Here is a little bit more about the lawmakers running for speaker.

Kevin Hern

The Oklahoma representative chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee. He announced his candidacy on Friday. 

"We just had two Speaker Designates go down. We must unify and do it fast. I've spoken to every Member of the Conference over the last few weeks. 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.

Hern has been a member of Congress since 2018. Prior to that, he worked as a businessman, owning two dozen McDonald's franchise locations.

Jack Bergman

The Michigan representative announced his candidacy on Friday. 

"My hat is in the ring, and I feel confident I can win the votes where others could not," Bergman said. "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."

Bergman, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general and businessman, touted his lack of political experience when he first ran in 2016.

Byron Donalds

The Florida representative has been backed by fellow Florida lawmakers Reps. Cory Mills and Mario Diaz-Balart. Rep. Donalds garnered some support during a speaker election in January, which McCarthy ultimately won. Donalds announced his candidacy on Friday. 

"My sole focus will be on 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," he said.

Tom Emmer

The Minnesota representative, a close ally of McCarthy, had declined to run to replace the ousted speaker earlier this month. He announced his candidacy on Saturday. 

"The American people elected us to deliver on a conservative agenda that secures our border, stops reckless spending, and holds Joe Biden accountable. We cannot afford to fail them," he said. "I'm running for Speaker of the House to bring our conference together and get back to work."

Emmer is the current majority whip.

Mike Johnson

The Louisiana representative was first elected in 2016. He serves as vice chairman of the House Republican Conference. Rep. Johnson announced his candidacy on Saturday. 

"At this critical juncture, our House Republican majority must provide principled leadership," he said. "It is our duty to chart a new path, and answer with clarity and conviction who we are, why we are here, and what we are fighting for."

Johnson is an attorney and a former radio host.

Dan Meuser

The Pennsylvania representative has served in the House since 2019. On Friday, he wrote on social media that should he decide to run, he would be focused on politics of inclusion. 

"It's time to get back to work and fight for a fiscally responsible budget, promote energy dominance, secure our border, protect our national security, weed out corruption, and earn the trust of the American people," Meuser said. 

Gary Palmer

The Alabama representative, a member of the House since 2015, currently serves as the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. He supported Jordan as the nominee for speaker.

Palmer previously worked as president of a conservative think tank in Alabama.

Austin Scott

The Georgia representative has served in the House since 2011. He announced his candidacy for speaker on Friday.

"If we are going to be the majority we need to act like the majority, and that means we have to do the right things the right way," he said. "I supported and voted for Rep. Jim Jordan to be the Speaker of the House. Now that he has withdrawn I am running again to be the Speaker of the House."

Scott owned and operated an insurance brokerage firm for nearly 20 years.

Pete Sessions

The Texas representative previously chaired the House Rules Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Rep. Sessions announced his candidacy on Friday. 

"Congressman Sessions believes he can forge a positive path as a conservative leader who can unite the Conference," his office said in a statement.


The Speaker of the House is an important position within the United States government.

Not only is the speaker the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives but they are also second in the United States presidential line of succession, after the vice president.

History was made on October 3, 2023, when Kevin McCarthy was removed as speaker on a motion to vacate the position. McCarthy was the 55th Speaker of the House and the first to be successfully removed.

In all, 54 men and one woman have held the role, 22 Democrats, 17 Republicans. Several early parties also had members serve as speakers before the formation of the two current parties, including Whigs, Jacksonians, Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, National Republicans, Pro-Admin, Anti-Admin, and the American Party.

While the United States has changed greatly since Frederick Muhlenberg first assumed the role in 1789, the role of the Speaker has maintained an important role for the majority party within the House of Representatives.

The Speaker is often seen as a de facto leader of their party when the executive branch is held by the opposite party.

What is the Speaker's Role?

The Speaker of the House is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives which means they are in charge of maintaining order, managing its proceedings, and governing the administration of its business. The Speaker is responsible for understanding and applying the House rules, including recognizing members who wish to address the body and putting questions on matters arising on the floor to a vote, according to House Practice.

The speaker is allowed to participate in a vote, as a member of the House, though this usually only happens when the speaker's vote is decisive such as constitutional amendments. The Speaker also appoints the House's general counsel, parliamentarian, historian, and inspector general. The Speaker also receives reports from government agencies, boards, commissions, and the president.

On the administrative side, the Speaker also oversees the House Office Building Commission which is responsible for the operation and regulation of physical house buildings. Which includes the House itself, Committee rooms of the House, garages, cafeterias, a power plant, and a dorm for Congressional pages.

From a constitutional perspective role is not stated to be a political role, but historically it has become extremely partisan with the Speaker serving as the voice of the majority party in the House. Traditionally the Speaker prioritizes legislation supported by the majority party and may use their power to determine when each bill reaches the floor.

When the Speaker and the President are from the same party the role has been seen as an aide to the executive branch. The Speaker in this light, helps bring the President's agenda to fruition such as in the case of Nancy Pelosi's push for healthcare reform during the Presidency of Barack Obama or Dennis Hastert's work with President George W. Bush on the Iraq War and the Patriot Act.

In recent history, however, it has more often been the case that the Speaker and President are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. In these cases, the Speaker becomes the leading public opponent of the president's agenda.

Recent examples include Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Presidents Bush and Trump, John Boehner and President Obama, and mostly recently Kevin McCarthy and President Biden.

Under the Rules of the House, the Speaker may designate a member to serve as speaker pro tempore, acting as the body's presiding officer in the speaker's absence. When Kevin McCarthy was removed as Speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina, became speaker pro tempore.

What Is The Speaker Pro Tempore?

The Speaker of the House may designate a member to serve as the speaker pro tempore or "acting speaker" during the absence of the speaker. According to the Rules of the House, the speaker pro tempore designation lasts for no more than three legislative days, although in the case of illness of the speaker, the speaker pro tempore may serve for ten legislative days if the appointment is approved by the House.

Normally, during these times the speaker pro tempore presides over the body as the Speaker would.

The role gained new interest when the office of speaker was declared vacant after the removal of Kevin McCarthy. After they are elected, current Rules of the House require the Speaker to create a secret ordered list of members to temporarily serve as speaker of the House if the speakership becomes vacant. The list is then revealed in the event of a vacancy due to the speaker's death, resignation, incapacitation, or removal from office in McCarthy's case.

Following the removal of McCarthy on October 3rd, North Carolina Representative Patrick McHenry became acting speaker. McHenry was the first name on McCarthy's prepared list. Though the speaker pro tempore serves the role of Speaker during a vacancy they are not in the line of presidential succession.

Do you have to be in Congress to become Speaker?

The Constitution does not explicitly state that the speaker must be a current member of the House or even a past member. While every person elected speaker has been a member of the House, in theory, anyone in America can be nominated or elected to the role. The only real requirement is that they are nominated by members of the House.

However, the premise of a non-elected official remains a topic of debate with many questioning the protocols of a Speaker who is bound by oath to the constitution. According to PBS, recent non-house members who received votes to become House Speaker include then-former Vice President Joe Biden, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.

Ultimately, you need a majority vote to become Speaker. In recent history, the number to reach has been 218 votes out of the 435 members of the House.

Could the Speaker become President?

According to the Presidential Line of Succession, which is laid out both in the Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Speaker of the House is second in line behind the Vice President in the event that the president can not carry out the duties of the office.

The President may be replaced if they were to die, be incapacitated, resign, or be removed from office.

The full line succession is:

  1. Vice President
  2. Speaker of the House
  3. President Pro Tempore of the Senate
  4. Secretary of State
  5. Secretary of the Treasury
  6. Secretary of Defense
  7. Attorney General
  8. Secretary of the Interior
  9. Secretary of Agriculture
  10. Secretary of Commerce
  11. Secretary of Labor
  12. Secretary of Health and Human Services
  13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  14. Secretary of Transportation
  15. Secretary of Energy
  16. Secretary of Education
  17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  18. Secretary of Homeland Security

After the removal of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, a gap was left in the line of succession. This means that until a new speaker is named, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Patty Murray is second in line behind Vice President Kamala Harris.

Has that ever happened?

To date, a Speaker of the House has never ascended to the role of President, and the ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967, has made it an unlikely outcome except in the aftermath of a catastrophic event.

Some may be under the impression that the Vice President also has a line of succession or that everyone simply bumps up a spot in the case of a removal but this is not the case.

As laid out in the 25th amendment, if the Vice President were to be removed for any reason, the President nominates a new Vice President which is then confirmed by a majority vote by both Houses of Congress. If the Vice President assumes the office of President they then are given that same power to nominate their replacement.

Which could be the Speaker of the House, but is not required to be so.

After the amendment went into effect in 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned. Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma was then for two months first in line to become acting president until Gerald Ford was sworn in as vice president.

Albert was also next in line from the time Ford assumed the presidency following Nixon's resignation from office in 1974. Until Ford's choice to succeed him as vice president, Nelson Rockefeller was confirmed by Congress.

While no Speaker has ever become President via succession, James K. Polk was elected President of the United States in 1845 and is the only former Speaker of the House to do so.

Has there ever been a Speaker from Oklahoma?

Yes, as previously mentioned Representative Carl Albert (D-Oklahoma) served three terms as the 46th Speaker of the House from 1971 to 1977. All in all, 55 people from 23 states have served as Speaker of the House. Massachusetts has had the most representatives hold the role with eight.

Have Any House Speakers Died In Office?

Yes, as of 2023 five people have died in office while Speaker of the House: Michael C. Kerr of Indiana, Henry T. Rainey of Illinois, Joseph W. Byrns of Tennessee, William B. Bankhead of Alabama, Samuel Rayburn of Texas.


Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News on 6 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

October 23rd, 2023

February 29th, 2024

February 29th, 2024

February 29th, 2024

Top Headlines

February 29th, 2024

February 29th, 2024

February 29th, 2024

February 29th, 2024