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An early look at possible successors to McCarthy for House speaker

By Jack Forrest and Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, CNN

(CNN) — Following Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster as House speaker, names have started to emerge as possible successors to take over the gavel.

With McCarthy announcing Tuesday night he will not be running for the speakership, the race is already underway.

There is no clear alternative to McCarthy who would have the support needed to win – any speaker hopefuls will need to find 218 votes, or the majority of lawmakers present and voting.

Some of the names being floated for the open role also emerged in January as hardline conservatives looked to block McCarthy from taking the gavel after the GOP won the House. While McCarthy ultimately won the fight, Tuesday’s ouster offers the opportunity for fresh consideration of candidates.

Here’s a look at his potential replacements:

Jim Jordan

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio on Wednesday became the first Republican to publicly say he’ll run to be the next House speaker, aiming to replace McCarthy.

Jordan replied “yes,” when asked if he is running for speaker and said he had just talked to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican, who he is likely to face.

His announcement comes after he kept the option of running for speaker open Tuesday when he told CNN it was a “conference decision.”

Some conservative Republicans encouraged Jordan to run and a GOP lawmaker previously told CNN that he was open to doing so. The chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee was previously nominated by conservative hardliners in January during the GOP fight for the speakership.

Once a thorn in the side of party leadership, known for his ultra-partisan rhetoric during the investigation into the Benghazi attacks and both impeachments of Trump, Jordan became a key ally to McCarthy and looked to position himself earlier this year as a serious committee chairman. He has used his perch on the Judiciary Committee to probe Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for their indictments of Trump earlier this year as well as the Justice Department for its investigation into Hunter Biden.

Jordan, who is a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, supported lawsuits to invalidate the 2020 presidential election results and voted not to certify the Electoral College results.

Steve Scalise

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who serves as House majority leader, announced on Wednesday his intention to succeed McCarthy.

While the No. 2 House Republican rejected calls from hardliners to challenge McCarthy for the speakership in January, it had been widely expected he would run for the position in the case that McCarthy dropped out.

“I know the coming weeks ahead will be some of the most arduous times we will face together, but this Conference is worth fighting for – we cannot lose sight of our shared mission. Now, more than ever, we must mend the deep wounds that exist within our Conference and focus on our objectives so we can get back to work for the millions of people who are counting on us,” Scalise said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It is with that sense of responsibility and purpose that I am seeking the Conference’s nomination for Speaker of the House.”

Scalise has experienced some serious health issues in recent years. In August, he revealed that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma and began chemotherapy treatment. He was also seriously wounded in the 2017 congressional baseball practice shooting in Alexandria, Virginia. When asked if he would be up for the job Tuesday, Scalise said, “I feel great.”

The former computer systems engineer, first elected to Congress in May 2008, represents a ruby red district that covers most of New Orleans’ suburbs. He faced backlash in 2014 for giving a speech to a White supremacist group founded by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke in 2002. Scalise later apologized, explaining in a statement that it was a mistake he regretted.

Tom Emmer

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer is one of the lawmakers to watch, with some members floating the Minnesota Republican as a top contender for the job.

Emmer, however, appeared to signal support for Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise on Tuesday night. As he exited a GOP meeting, he told reporters, “Steve Scalise has been a friend for a long time. He would be a great speaker.” Asked if he would nominate Scalise for speaker, Emmer said, “I think I made it clear.”

The Minnesota lawmaker was first elected to Congress in 2014 and became majority whip earlier this year. Emmer, who lost a race for Minnesota governor in 2010, was a state representative from 2004-2008. He sits on the House Financial Services Committee.

Kevin Hern

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Kevin Hern told CNN Wednesday he is considering a run for leadership – suggesting a speaker’s run is on the table while not ruling out a run for majority leader, either.

”I’m doing what I’ve always been doing. I’ve had a lot of conversations about leadership. So I’m going to go listen to the Texas delegation,” Hern said when asked if he would run for speaker.

Hern chairs the conservative group known as the Republican Study Committee.

Republicans hardliners in the House Freedom Caucus have floated Hern’s name as a possible nominee for speaker in meetings and other private conversations over the past weeks. During the deadlocked race for speaker in January, Hern, whose committee wields a large bloc of GOP members, received a couple of anti-McCarthy protest votes in the eighth round of voting.

Hern was sworn-in to the House in 2018 after a career working in various leadership position at McDonalds, according to his House biography. He also worked as an aerospace engineer. Hern is a member of the House Ways and Means committee and co-chairs the Small Business and Franchise caucuses.

This story has been updated with additional information.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Haley Talbot, Melanie Zanona, Annie Grayer, Sara Murray, Alayna Treene, Zachary Cohen, Kristin Wilson and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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