Republicans’ race to nominate and elect a new speaker of the House has created a power vacuum that may benefit Democrats as the vacancy spills into its 20th day.
There are now nine candidates officially in the running to replace former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., but as the GOP caucus mulls its decision, there remain questions about how long the debate will rage – and if that means the party could lose voters in 2024.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio failed to garner enough votes during his third round of floor-wide votes on Friday, sending party members back to the drawing board in an effort to end a stalemate. Twenty-five Republicans voted against him, leaving him roughly 217 votes short of securing a win. The slim GOP majority and unified Democrat opposition gives any speaker candidate little wiggle room for naysayers within his or her own party.
Patrick McHenry, who is currently serving as interim speaker, said last week that Republicans will hold another forum Monday on the speakership runs, followed by a likely floor vote Tuesday. The race continues to be cloaked in uncertainty as candidates jockey as the strongest politician to pass muster and garner enough support to secure the speakership.
CHAOTIC, CONVOLUTED PATH HOUSE REPUBLICANS TOOK TO ELECT SPEAKER LEADS BACK TO SQUARE ONE
‘Republican chaos’ on the Hill could dash the GOP’s hopes of holding onto the House in the next election cycle, but the party could save itself with the election of a new speaker, according to longtime Democrat strategist Hank Sheinkopf.
‘If a speaker can be elected, default avoided and defense budgets restored in the face of international crises, the chances of Democratic takeover will be reduced,’ Sheinkopf told Fox News Digital.
McCarthy was ousted on Oct. 3 after a small contingent of conservative Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida rallied support that McCarthy was paralyzing the conservative agenda in the House. Not a single Democrat voted in favor of keeping McCarthy as speaker while eight Republicans voted to oust him in an historic first for removing a speaker in a no-confidence vote.
Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana soon emerged as a possible replacement, but he dropped out after failing to secure enough support.
Jordan, an anti-establishment firebrand and founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, became the next nominee as some Republicans rallied around his conservative ideology, including former President Donald Trump, who endorsed him for being ‘STRONG on Crime, Borders, our Military/Vets, & 2nd Amendment.’
Jordan’s run came crashing down after he lost support during his third run as news of death threats made against several of Jordan’s holdouts made headlines. Jordan’s office has condemned the threats as ‘abhorrent,’ but Republicans have spoken out that the messages soured their support or potential support.
‘When the pressure campaigns and attacks on fellow members ramped up, it became clear to me that the House Republican Conference does not need a bully as the speaker,’ Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson, whose family allegedly received threats, said in a statement last week.
Sheinkopf argued that some House members are rejecting candidates who align politically with Trump in order to separate themselves from the former president’s legal issues.
‘GOP House members are rejecting MAGA candidates in what appears to be a first important step toward Trump independence. Why? The potential negatives arising from the former president’s legal troubles might rub off on Republicans, making it even more difficult to maintain House control,’ he told Fox.
Now, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Mike Johnson of Louisiana and others announced their runs as potential replacements for McCarthy.
Reports have already circulated of Republican in-fighting over Emmer’s run as those in Trump’s orbit spoke out that the former president would not endorse his run, citing a lack of relationship or contentious relationship, Politico reported last week.
As the speakership race continues, Democrats have been fundraising off the turmoil, arguing that the upcoming election cycle will yield favorable results for Democrats.
‘Republicans are in ruin,’ Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal said in an email seeking donations for her next run, Bloomberg reported. ‘They are wallowing in their own pigsty of incompetence.’
President Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign also sent a fundraising message to supporters, highlighting that the GOP removed its own speaker and a ‘bunch of extremist Republicans are throwing their name in the ring’ as a replacement.
Democrats have voted for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries amid Republicans’ runs for speaker.
Democrat strategist Brad Woodhouse weighed in last week that the ‘dysfunction’ playing out among House Republicans ‘will benefit’ the Democratic Party.
‘There’s almost no doubt that this type of dysfunction and chaos among Republicans will benefit Democrats,’ Woodhouse told Roll Call before Jordan bowed out of the race. ‘And I think you combine that with the notion that Jim Jordan is a guy that founded the House Freedom Caucus and is one of the most conservative firebrands in the House. … Even if they solve this current chaos by making him the speaker, they will definitely have cut off their nose to spite their face.’
Former Vice President Mike Pence sounded off against the ‘chaos caucus’ – and the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy – while former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called on voters to rally around Democrats after House Republicans nominated Jordan as speaker.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said Saturday on X, formerly Twitter, that he’ll be ‘looking at’ the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy, along with the 25 who voted against Jordan, if the House ends up with a speaker who supports hefty spending bills.
‘The question that all Speaker candidates must answer: What’s your plan to prevent an omnibus? McCarthy and Jordan both had plans that could’ve worked. If we end up with an omnibus and more spending, I’m looking at the 8 who vacated McCarthy and the 25 who voted against Jordan,’ Massie tweeted Saturday.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York announced Sunday that nine candidates met the noon deadline to run as speaker.