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House Republicans in the Running for Speaker: Meet the Contenders


The race for House Speaker is intensifying as a new set of candidates steps into the fray following the withdrawal of Rep. Jim Jordan. The field of eight contenders includes both fresh faces and familiar names, some having previously entered the race after Kevin McCarthy's removal or during the complex speakership balloting in January. With uncertainty around who will garner the necessary support from the GOP conference, House Republicans are convening a candidate forum to hear from the aspirants.

Rep. Dan Meuser, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, initially entered the race but withdrew after delivering his speech at the forum. The Pennsylvania Republican's candidacy was endorsed by House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik on Sunday.

Among the prominent figures seeking the speakership is Rep. Tom Emmer, the House majority whip, who aims to bring about "historic change." Emmer's candidacy received early support from McCarthy, who emphasized Emmer's experience and effectiveness, stating that this is not a time for a learning experience. However, Emmer, who voted to certify the 2020 election, may face challenges from some House Freedom Caucus members and Trump allies critical of the current GOP leadership.

Another contender is Rep. Kevin Hern, the Oklahoma Republican and chair of the influential Republican Study Committee. Hern expressed his intention to run for speaker, emphasizing his commitment to building support for his candidacy.

As the race unfolds, the dynamics within the GOP conference will play a crucial role in determining who secures the 217 votes needed from the full House to become the House Speaker. The coming days will be pivotal in shaping the landscape of Republican leadership in the House.

The race for the House Speaker among House Republicans is gaining complexity with a diverse set of contenders vying for the coveted role. Among them is Rep. Kevin Hern, a Republican from Oklahoma, whose name was previously floated by hardliners in the House Freedom Caucus. Hern, the chair of the influential Republican Study Committee, has received attention for anti-McCarthy protest votes during the deadlocked speaker race in January. A McDonald's executive turned aerospace engineer, Hern joined the House in 2018 and is a member of the House Ways and Means committee, co-chairing the Small Business and Franchise caucuses.

Another contender is Rep. Jack Bergman, a 40-year veteran of the US Marines, who is emphasizing his commitment to national service. Bergman, elected to Michigan's 1st District in 2016, holds the rank of lieutenant general, making him the highest-ranking combat veteran ever to serve in the House. He chairs the Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee within the House Armed Services Committee.

Additionally, Rep. Austin Scott from Georgia, a seven-term congressman, is re-entering the speaker race. Initially withdrawing his last-minute bid against Jim Jordan, Scott is now pursuing the position with a wide-open field. A vocal ally of Kevin McCarthy, Scott started his political career in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1997 and currently serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Agriculture Committee.

Furthermore, Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and member of the House Freedom Caucus, has announced his bid for the speakership, aiming to promote a conservative vision for the House and the American people.

As the contenders present their cases, the Republican conference faces the challenging task of selecting a leader who can unify their caucus and navigate the complex political landscape. The outcome of this race will undoubtedly shape the future direction of Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.

The race for the House Speaker among House Republicans includes a diverse range of candidates, each bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to the forefront. Rep. Byron Donalds, serving his second term, received votes from far-right GOP members in January as a protest against McCarthy. Donalds, who won his first election in 2020, describes himself as a "Trump-supporting, gun-owning, liberty-loving, pro-life, politically incorrect Black man." His background includes work in the banking, finance, and insurance industries before being elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016.

Rep. Mike Johnson from Louisiana, currently serving as the House Republican conference vice chairman, also declared his candidacy for speaker. With a wealth of experience, Johnson was first elected to the House in 2016 and serves as a deputy whip for the House GOP. He has chaired the Republican Study Committee and sits on significant committees like the House Judiciary Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, a seasoned conservative leader, announced his candidacy, emphasizing his ability to unite the conference. Having chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee and the House Rules Committee, Sessions brings a wealth of legislative experience. Despite a hotly contested 2018 race, he successfully won a different Texas district in 2020. Sessions faced a brief scandal in 2019 related to associates of Trump ally Rudy Giuliani pushing him to seek the ouster of the US Ambassador to Ukraine.

Additionally, Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama has entered the speaker race. Elected to Alabama's 6th District in 2014, Palmer currently serves as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. His committee assignments include Oversight and Accountability, as well as Energy and Commerce.

As these candidates present themselves for consideration, the dynamics within the GOP conference will play a crucial role in determining the future House Speaker. The varied backgrounds and perspectives of the contenders underscore the complexity of the decision-making process within the Republican caucus.

Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama, who is now a candidate for the House Speaker role, has a unique connection to a significant event in recent congressional history. Palmer was playing shortstop during the 2017 congressional Republican baseball practice, where House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and others were shot. This incident had a profound impact on the GOP, particularly as Scalise, who was once considered the Republicans' choice for speaker, dropped out of the race due to a lack of consensus within the party. Notably, Scalise has decided not to run for the position again.

Palmer's involvement in the 2017 baseball practice adds a layer of depth to his candidacy, highlighting his firsthand experience during a critical moment in congressional politics. As the race for the House Speaker unfolds, the varied backgrounds and experiences of the candidates contribute to the intricate dynamics within the GOP conference.

This story will continue to evolve, with additional developments expected in the ongoing race for the speakership. CNN's Shania Shelton, Haley Talbot, and Melanie Zanona have provided valuable contributions to this report, offering insights into the unfolding narrative of Republican leadership aspirations.

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