Speaker of the House John Boehner announced on Friday that he would be resigning from his position at the end of October. The Ohio Native has served as Speaker since 2011 and in Congress since 1990. Boehner is the first House Speaker to willingly leave the job since 1986. The question now is who will become the next Speaker – and let’s not forget – third in line for the presidency?
The current favorite seems to be Kevin McCarthy, House majority leader and representative of California’s 23rd district. Rumor has it that Boehner was looking to retire last year and would have seen Eric Cantor succeed him. But, in August 2014, Cantor lost and was replaced by Kevin McCarthy. Boehner has since stated that McCarthy is his preferred successor.
Kevin McCarthy was born and raised in California, attending California State University before jumping into politics. He was first elected as a Representative of California in 2006. He then served as House Republican chief deputy whip from 2009-2011 and House majority whip from 2011-2014.
McCarthy is the least-tenured majority leader to ever be elected in the House, serving only seven years before gaining the powerful position of majority leader. Will he be the one to reunite a divided House?
Paul Ryan of Wisconsin seemed to be another favorite, but told the press a few days ago that he would not be running simply because he doesn’t want to. Paul Ryan has served as Wisconsin’s 1st district representative since 1999 and has been Chairman of the House Budget Committee since 2011. He was the GOP nominee for Vice President in 2012 (with Mitt Romney).
“I was shocked that he did it,” said Paul Ryan. “This was an act of pure selflessness on the part of John Boehner.” Speaker of the House is a job for an “empty nester,” added Ryan, father of three. He also said that he believes McCarthy will be the next Speaker.
But McCarthy isn’t guaranteed the position. Representative Daniel Webster of Florida has announced that he will be running against McCarthy and the way he’s been talking I wouldn’t be surprised if Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois threw in his hat as well.
“I’m for somebody who can bridge the divide in our Conference,” said Roskam. “If we don’t have a plan to get us out of this dysfunction, reshuffling the deck won’t make anything better. I’m going to work hard to make sure we get the leadership we need, not just settle on the fastest, easiest choice.
The situation is still volatile and conservatives have proven that they have enough power to withhold the position of Speaker from anyone. According to House Freedom Caucus member John Fleming (R-LA), conservatives plan to bloc-vote in order to ensure that a candidate they approve gets the Speakership.
“We’ve just witnessed one of the most remarkable political developments in American history,” reads a letter by Roskam. “Our Speaker just stepped down in the middle of a session. Before we rush headlong into leadership elections, we need to take time to reflect on what has happened and have a serious discussion about why we’re here serving, what we expect of our leaders, and how we plan to accomplish our goals.”