For the first time since 1856, when it took 133 ballots and two months to elect Representative Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts as House speaker, it has taken members such a long time to choose who wields the gavel.
Since the announcement Friday that Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio abandoned his bid for speaker, no fewer than 10 GOP House members have put forward their names for the position.
Despite the free-for-all, the early favorites for winning the speakership are House Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern of Oklahoma and GOP Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota.
Hern, serving his second term, was a successful small businessman before coming to Congress. He is also a popular representative with members of the Freedom Caucus but doesn’t alienate more moderate representatives.
However, Emmer is a moderate. The American Conservative Union rates him 77%, contrasting Hern’s 95%. Emmer is considered a more “establishment” Republican.
Additionally, Emmer has been critical of the current Republican front-runner for the 2024 presidential nomination, former President Donald Trump.
However, there are several other strong candidates in the mix.
Late Friday afternoon, GOP Representative Pete Sessions of Texas entered the race.
Sessions has been in Congress for 22 years, previously chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee, and is popular with the influential Texas delegation.
Republican Representative from Florida, Byron Donalds, has also put his name forward. Donalds is a favorite of MAGA supporters and is one of four Black House GOP members.
Representative Jack Bergman, a Michigan Republican, is a retired lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, also put himself forward for the speakership. Bergman said he sees himself as an interim speaker and has promised to serve only the remaining 14 months of the term.
Also entering the racer are Representatives Roger Williams and Jodey Arrington of Texas, Austin Scott of Georgia, runner-up in the last vote for Jordan for speaker, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, and Mark Green of Tennessee.
All are considered well-liked by colleagues and are strong conservatives.
GOP conference set to meet Monday evening in a closed-door meeting
The Conference is set to meet on Monday evening behind closed doors. The first ballot for speaker candidate will reduce the field to two.
On the second ballot, one of the two is presumed to gain a majority of the Republican House members and become the designated candidate for speaker.
Under the rules of the Conference, all GOP members are required to vote for the nominee. However, that rule has yet to be considered so far, leading to the current situation.
If members continue to block the nominee, it could lead to a disastrous House situation.
One member suggested a scenario where former Speaker Kevin McCarthy emerges again as the compromise candidate.
Republican David Kustoff of Tennessee spoke for many of his fellow representatives when he said he hasn’t yet decided on a candidate.
“Before someone can be the nominee, we have to know their priorities. No women are running, so I can say we have ten good men,” added Kustoff.
A full vote on the floor of the House is expected Tuesday.