October 8, 2023

Rep. Kevin Hern says he will not pursue speaker's job, calls for party unity

With the process of selecting a successor to ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) ramping up this week, one lawmaker who had been the subject of speculation as a potential candidate for the role has just bowed out of contention, as Fox News reports.

Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK), who also serves as chair of the Republican Study Committee, has indicated that he will not seek the speaker's gavel after all, instead urging the party to unify around a candidate in short order.

Hern bows out

Though he had not made any official declaration of his candidacy for the speaker's role, Hern had generated some buzz about a possible run, and he had reportedly been soliciting opinions on Capitol Hill about his prospects.

In the end, however, Hern determined that it was not the right time for him to throw his hat into the ring, and he offered a clear message to his colleagues as they endeavor to coalesce around a leader who can effectively serve in McCarthy's stead.

“House Republicans must unify – and do it fast. It's clear to me that a three-man race for speaker will only draw this process out longer, creating further division which would make it harder for any candidate to reach 217 votes,” the Oklahoma legislator said in a written communication to his colleagues.

Hern continued, “For these reasons, I want two good friends of mine, Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan, to have the opportunity to earn 217 votes from our Conference. Steve and Jim are both former RSC chairmen and proven leaders.”

The congressman added, “Whatever happens next, our Conference must commit to stay in the room, turn off our phones, and work together until we have a candidate who can earn 217 Republican votes.”

Calling for his party to come together amid prior – highly publicized – divisions, Hern declared, “When we leave that room and head to the House floor, we must show the world that we are united in support behind our speaker and ready to do the work we were elected.”

Will Trump's pick prevail?

After some talk emerged of him stepping into the speaker's role himself – at least on an interim basis – former President Donald Trump last week endorsed Jim Jordan (R-OH) for the position, as NBC News reported.

Trump took to his Truth social platform to make his preference clear, saying, “Congressman Jim Jordan has been a STAR long before making his very successful journey to Washington, D.C., representing Ohio's 4th Congressional District.”

Characterizing Jordan as “STRONG on Crime, Borders, our Military/Vets, & 2nd Amendment,” Trump added, “[h]e will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete & Total Endorsement!”

While Scalise of Louisiana also has no shortage of supporters in the Republican House ranks, his ongoing battle against blood cancer and current treatment regimen may cause some to believe that Jordan is the better candidate for the demanding role at this point in time, but whether that possibility is ultimately borne out remains to be seen.

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