Less than 48 hours after Kevin McCarthy's fall from the summit of the House, the rumor mills are flushed with spin and gratuitous speculation. We'll now join the fray with our own observations from several reliable media sources.
John Gizzi, of Newsmax is a longtime capitol reporter with endless connections in the halls of legislative power. He lists 3 top contenders; Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Kevin Hern.
Gizzi believes Hern Could heal the factions.
A few narratives have changed since late Tuesday afternnon. When the interim speaker took over duties, the first thing he did was adjourn congress until next Tuesday. This allowed important leadership planning to go behind close doors and give diplomacy a better environment for healing the Republican Conference.
Newt Gingrich is living out his flashback to when Steve Largent and Tom Coburn eventually pushed him out of the healm, in 1998. Newt needs to own his moral failings and go see a good therapist. The Pelosi rule, preventing a motion to vacate the Speakership by a member, needs to remain as it has been for over 200 years.
Strengths Weaknesses of the Three Leading Candidates:
The Louisiana congresssman has been in political office most of his adult life. He's had decades of headstart on Hern. But insiders warn that Scalise is less 'MAGA' than McCarthy, and less committed to conservative principles. He's likeable, and a sympathetic figure, largely due to being almost assassinated by a leftist gunman, while working out with the Republican baseball team, a few years ago. Freedom Caucus members will prefer Hern or Jordan because they are caucus colleagues. Scalise is not.
Scalise is the most vulnerable of the three to getting staunch opposition within the party caucus, by those who refused to support McCarthy, back in January and since.
The former Ohio State wrestling coach is an expert communicator who enjoys vast support from MAGA Republicans. He's a specialist in committee interrogations and making press statements. Journalists love his directness and ability to provide soundbites. What his colleagues wonder, is if Jordan can fill the executive role and manage a policy agenda that wants to address 222 priorities at once.
More moderate members of the Republican Conference may be uncomfortable trusting Jordan to speak for all of the GOP. Plus, the role of Speaker will sideline Jordan from filling his best role, that of committee interrogator of the Biden Administration. The GOP has rarely had someone as skilled as Jordan, in exposing leftist corruption. Jordan is also a 'media darling' because of his communication skills.
The Oklahoma fast food magnate is perhaps the most 'Trump-like' of the three top contenders, but not in Trump's communication style. Hern went from the McDonalds leadership team, to public office, just 5 years ago. His mastery of people skills and CEO prowess, are evident to everyone in the House Republican majority.
Hern was elected chairman of the Republican Study Group, a 157-member conservative policy team. It is the largest 'caucus' in congress.
Hern also joined the Freedom Caucus immediately after being sworn in, in November of 2018. A couple years ago, Hern joined the Ways & Means committee. He also was tapped to lead the Budget study for the Republican Study Group(RSG). Trump and Congressional leaders lauded Hern's path to a balanced budget by 2030.
That lead to Hern being elected to the RSG.
Hern is measured and disciplined in his rhetoric. The Republicans will want that virtue, going into the 2024 elections.
Hern was even nominated for Speaker, by McCarthy's detractors, last January. He gracefully ignored the compliment from Matt Gaetz, but won the votes of a handful of anti McCarthy hardliners.
Scalise may look good on the first ballot of the secret conclave, scheduled for Tuesday night. But Hern will likely be the 2nd choice of nearly everyone voting. And that may become a more powerful endorsement. Hern will manage the GOP perhaps better than the other two leading options.