Two Top Republicans Enter Race for House Speaker

Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise (Getty Images)
October 4, 2023

The race to replace ousted House speaker Kevin McCarthy took shape on Wednesday as Steve Scalise, the chamber's No. 2 Republican, and Jim Jordan, a leading antagonist of President Joe Biden, said they would seek the post.

The two lawmakers could be joined by several other candidates in what could be a lengthy and likely messy battle to fill the post in the House where Republicans hold a majority.

Republican lawmakers emerging from a private meeting mainly named the two as leading candidates.

Tuesday's historic removal of McCarthy, driven by a rebellious faction of Republicans joined by the Democratic caucus, marked the first time the chamber has removed its leader from a position that is second in line to the president after the vice president.

Republicans have set an Oct. 11 vote to choose a successor and are due to meet the day before to hear from their candidates.

The leadership fight is eating into the time lawmakers have to extend government spending before it expires on Nov. 18 and update farm-subsidy and nutrition programs, among other tasks.

Majority Leader Scalise, who has been getting treatment for cancer, has long been considered McCarthy's heir apparent and has been meeting privately with Republicans to build support for his bid. He is seen as more conservative than McCarthy.

He was critically wounded in 2017 when a man who had criticized Republicans on social media shot him and other party lawmakers as they were practicing for a baseball game.

"We all need to come together and pull in the same direction to get the country back on the right track," he wrote in a letter to Republicans.

(Reporting by David Morgan, Moira Warburton, and Richard Cowan; writing by Andy Sullivan; editing by Scott Malone, Cynthia Osterman, and Howard Goller)