Scalise Withdraws From Speaker Race, Citing GOP Divisions

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) dropped out of the race for Speaker on Thursday, October 12th, 2023, citing divisions within the Republican Party. Scalise’s withdrawal leaves the Republican conference without a nominee for Speaker, and it is unclear who will be able to unite the party and win the speakership.

Scalise was the frontrunner for the speakership after former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) withdrew his candidacy in September. However, Scalise faced opposition from a small group of hard-right Republicans, who refused to support him. Scalise tried to win over these holdouts, but he was unable to secure enough votes to guarantee a victory on the House floor.

In a statement announcing his withdrawal, Scalise said, “I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for Speaker of the House. I have come to the conclusion that the Republican conference is not ready to unite behind a single candidate. This is a time for Republicans to come together and unite behind a Speaker who can lead us into the future.”

With Democrats united in nominating Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for speaker, Republicans can only afford to lose a handful of votes to secure the simple majority needed to secure the speaker’s gavel unless there is a bipartisan compromise.

Scalise’s withdrawal is a major setback for Republicans. The party is already facing a difficult midterm election, and now it must also find a new Speaker. It is unclear who will be able to unite the party and win the speakership. Some possible candidates include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Whip Elise Stefanik, and House Oversight Committee Chair Jim Jordan.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) listed Jordan along with some other names as possibilities in a post to X on Thursday evening. Among the additional recommendations were Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK), who had previously bowed out of the race for speaker; Rep. Mark Green (R-TN); and former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY). Luna later added Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) as “another good option.”