Watch CBS News

Who are the Republican House speaker candidates who've run and dropped out? Here's a full list

Will Rep. Mike Johnson become House speaker?
Will Rep. Mike Johnson win enough votes to become House speaker? 04:08

House Republicans finally elected a House speaker — GOP Rep. Mike Johnson won the gavel Wednesday after the Republican conference ran through a long list of candidates — and several nominees — over the three-week period after Rep. Kevin McCarthy's ouster from the speakership. 

There were four ballots on the House floor and four Republican nominees successively selected by the GOP conference over a three-week period. Here's more on the new speaker and the full list of Republicans who sought the speakership over the last three weeks.

Who is the new House speaker Mike Johnson?

Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana — the fourth Republican to be nominated for House speaker — won the speakership on a party-line vote on Wednesday. The final vote was 220-209.

Johnson, who represents a district in western Louisiana, was first elected to the House in 2016. He is a close ally of former President Donald Trump and opposed the certification of President Joe Biden's 2020 victory over Trump. Johnson's name was the first on an amicus brief signed by over 100 House Republicans in support of a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to overturn the election results in four swing states won by President Biden.

The brief claimed that the officials and courts in each of the battleground states unconstitutionally usurped the power granted to state legislators by changing election rules in 2020. The Supreme Court rejected the request, saying Texas lacked legal standing. 

According to The New York Times, about three-quarters of the arguments that lawmakers used to justify overturning the election results relied on arguments from Johnson.

Johnson's House biography says that he's a constitutional lawyer who served in the Louisiana Legislature from 2015 until 2017. Read more about Johnson here.

Which GOP speaker candidates ran and dropped out?

The first nomination — Steve Scalise wins

Republican Divisions Threaten Scalise's Ascent To House Speaker
US House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, speaks with members of the media following a House Republican caucus meeting in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023.  Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republican lawmakers initially selected House Majority Leader Steve Scalise as their nominee for speaker of the House, teeing up the election to fill the seat left vacant after the historic ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

Scalise, who represents Louisana's 1st District, defeated Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, a conservative firebrand, in a closed-door, secret-ballot vote of the GOP conference, 113 to 99, members said. 

But the majority leader faced an uphill battle in getting the necessary votes, with at least 16 Republican representatives, including several of Jordan's supporters, indicating they would not vote for him on the House floor. 

On Oct. 12, a day after he won the nomination, Scalise withdrew from the race before facing a vote on the House floor, after he was unable to secure the support of enough Republicans to deliver the speakership.

The second nomination — Jim Jordan wins

Speaker Vote Jordan Oct 18
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 18: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Republican nominee for speaker of the House, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, are seen on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol after a second ballot vote in which Jordan failed to receive enough votes to win the position on Wednesday, October 18, 2023.  om Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

House Judiciary Chairman and far-right conservative Jim Jordan faced a last-minute protest candidate, Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia, in the second speaker nomination contest held by the GOP conference.

Jordan, who represents Ohio's 4th District, won the support of 124 of his Republican colleagues, according to lawmakers. His total surpassed Scalise's tally of 113 from two days earlier but still fell far short of the 217 votes that would likely be needed to win the speakership on the House floor. Rep. Scott, a seven-term Georgia Republican, launched a last-minute protest candidacy before Friday's conference meeting and won roughly 80 votes. Scott told reporters he would back Jordan. 

On Friday, Oct. 20, House Republicans voted to drop Rep. Jim Jordan as their nominee after he failed to win a majority on the House floor three times in a week, losing successively more Republicans in each round. Eighty-six Republicans said Jordan should stay in the race, and 112 said he shouldn't, according to lawmakers who were in the room.

The third nomination — Tom Emmer wins

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023.
House Majority Whip Tom Emmer on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The majority whip and representative of Minnesota's 6th District, a close ally of McCarthy, had declined to run to replace the ousted speaker earlier this month. He announced his candidacy on Saturday after Jordan's withdrawal and was the winner of the first election held Tuesday.

"The American people elected us to deliver on a conservative agenda that secures our border, stops reckless spending, and holds Joe Biden accountable. We cannot afford to fail them," he said. "I'm running for Speaker of the House to bring our conference together and get back to work."

But confronted with the opposition of former President Trump and the far-right members of the conference, Emmer dropped his bid Tuesday afternoon, four hours after he had won.

Nine candidates who originally announced they were running after Jordan was forced to withdraw his candidacy for the speakership: 

  • Jack Bergman of Michigan, 1st District: He was eliminated after the second round of voting.
  • Byron Donalds of Florida, 19th District: Donalds withdrew after the fourth round, after tying with Hern for the least support.
  • Tom Emmer of Minnesota, 6th District: Emmer, the majority whip, won after several rounds of voting, the final round against Mike Johnson. 
  • Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, 1st District: Hern tied with Donalds for the lowest number of votes in the fourth round and was dropped from the ballot.
  • Mike Johnson of Louisiana, 4th District: He went head-to-head with Emmer in the fifth and final ballot and lost, 117-97.
  • Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, 9th District: He dropped out before the race began, calling for unity in the conference and expressing doubt that he'd win.
  • Gary Palmer of Alabama, 6th District: He dropped out of the running, too, with a comment that there needed to be "stability" in the House. 
  • Austin Scott of Georgia, 8th District: He was eliminated after the third round.
  • Pete Sessions of Texas, 17th District: He was eliminated in the first round of voting.

The fourth nomination — Mike Johnson wins

Mike Johnson (C) (R-LA) speaks after being nominated Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives at Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC on October 24, 2023.  SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

After Emmer's withdrawal, the Republican conference hastily announced a new speaker election for Tuesday evening. Late that evening, Rep. Mike Johnson, a four-term House member, won the nomination and   went on to win the speakership Wednesday with the support of all 220 Republicans in attendance, surpassing the 215-vote total required to win. 

Here's who ran for the nomination in the GOP conference's fourth contest:

  • Byron Donalds of Florida, 19th District: Donalds made it to the final round and was defeated by Johnson.
  • Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, 3rd District: He was the eliminated after the first vote.
  • Mark Green of Tennessee, 7th District: Green and Roger Williams received the lowest number of votes in the second round and were dropped from the ballot.
  • Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, 1st District: Hern dropped out before voting began and threw his support to Johnson.
  • Mike Johnson of Louisiana, 4th District: He won the nomination in the final round against Donalds and then went on to win the speakership Wednesday.
  • Roger Williams of Texas, 25th District: He and Green were elimated after the second round. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.