The Next Speaker: Scalise, Emmer and Others Line

Speculation was rife on Capitol Hill Tuesday night, as House Republicans were tight-lipped about who they would rally behind for the next Speaker of the House position.

Shortly after Kevin McCarthy revealed he wouldn’t be pursuing the Speaker’s chair again, the race to fill his shoes heated up.

Insiders informed me that Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana was actively gauging interest, reaching out to members to assess his chances.

At 57, Scalise is a conservative figure with many admirers. However, concerns echo in the corridors about whether he’s up for the intense demands of the Speaker role, especially with his continuous travel requirements. It’s notable that he recently sought treatment for blood cancer.

Majority Whip Tom Emmer from Minnesota, who holds the third-highest rank in the House, is another name in contention. I’ve been told he’s inclined to step into the ring only if Scalise backs out. Emmer, 61, garnered respect from his GOP peers during his tenure as the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2022. However, some opine that the GOP didn’t reach its potential in 2022, mainly benefiting from 11 seats in New York – a state Emmer didn’t prioritize.

A reliable source hinted that Scalise and Emmer might come to a mutual understanding by next week regarding their respective candidacies.

Elise Stefanik, the House Republican Conference Chair, is another contender. Having previously worked with the Bush administration, the 39-year-old would be the most youthful candidate. Yet, an insider connected to Stefanik revealed that while her name is being floated, she hasn’t initiated any formal moves.

Jim Jordan of Ohio, the House Judiciary Committee Chair, is expressing interest too. While he’s celebrated by the base, some colleagues believe he’s more suited for capturing media attention than forging agreements.

Surprise contenders might emerge as well, with Kevin Hern from Oklahoma and Californian Rep. Darrell Issa being speculated. Issa, especially, was a staunch critic during Obama’s presidency, making him popular among conservatives.

Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry of North Carolina has indicated that the potential candidates will present their arguments at a private gathering of the House Republican Conference next Tuesday.