House Republicans met Thursday in what was intended to be a secret vote for their next Speaker of the House, following current Speaker John Boehner’s resignation from the post taking effect later this month. In what apparently came as a shock to everyone in the room, front-runner Kevin McCarthy removed himself from the race due to his inability to secure the 218 votes necessary to win.
With the Majority Leader stepping out, the field is once again wide open, and candidates who seemed dead in the water are now swimming quickly toward their goal. Because of the sudden chaos, it seems necessary to take a closer look at some of those who hope to fill McCarthy’s vacant position at the front of the pack.
Florida Republican Daniel Webster was apparently a leading cause of McCarthy’s early exit. When the House Freedom Caucus, which includes about forty members, announced their endorsement of Webster over McCarthy, the latter lost the votes necessary to cross the threshold of success. He previously served as Speaker of the Florida State House and is fairly new to the national scene, as he was elected in the 2010 wave of Republican victories across the country. Webster has a relatively low conservative rating from the ACU at only 72%, but was kicked out of the House Rules Committee last year for failing to support Boehner for Speaker.
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has also been a name high on many people’s lists as a potential replacement for Boehner. Serving in the House since 2008, Chaffetz is currently serving as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Known for his firebrand politics and witty style of questioning witnesses before the Committee, Chaffetz certainly knows his game and stands firm in his decisions. Chaffetz has a lifetime conservative rating of 92 from the ACU.
Webster and Chaffetz are the only declared candidates for the Speakership, but with McCarthy’s sudden exit, the race has opened up to speculation about more potentially jumping in to fill the gap. Names are floating around Twitter, including everyone from CNN’s Jake Tapper to House of Cards‘s Frank Underwood. While both would make for newsworthy Speakers, it’s more likely that someone in the race for House Majority Leader may, due to McCarthy’s drop out from the Speaker’s race and decision to remain as Majority Leader, cross over into the higher race. Representatives Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Tom Price (R-GA) are both currently running for Majority Leader, and whispers are spreading that Scalise may take a look at the Speakership.
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), currently the number four Republican in the House, had removed herself from any races but has been mentioned as a potential dark horse to run for Speaker following today’s developments. As a woman with a solidly conservative record and following, hers could potentially be the candidacy that upsets the whole ship once again and sends the good ol’ boys into a tailspin.
The vote for Speaker was postponed after today’s meeting, with no word of when the rescheduled date would be.