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Hern wants to replace Scalise as majority leader

Republican Study Committee chair opted not to run for speaker

Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., said he would run for majority leader after the current holder of that position, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, was nominated by the GOP conference for speaker.
Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., said he would run for majority leader after the current holder of that position, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, was nominated by the GOP conference for speaker. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Kevin Hern pitched himself to become the next House majority leader, saying in a letter to colleagues that “no one” would outwork him “as I fight for the policy wins that will help us expand our majority, take back the Senate, and win the White House.”

The third-term Oklahoma Republican made the announcement Wednesday after the House GOP conference nominated the current majority leader, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, for speaker.

Hern, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest bloc of House conservatives, had contemplated joining the race for speaker. But he never formally entered and took himself out of the contest over the weekend after gauging support among his colleagues.

Throwing his support to Scalise, Hern said he would vote for him on the floor and he encouraged “all of my colleagues to do the same, no matter who you supported in the conference vote.”

Hern said his experience outside Congress — including as an aerospace engineer and as the franchisee of a chain of McDonald’s restaurants — qualifies him for the No. 2 GOP leadership position. “The nameplate on my desk said, ‘Head Excuse Eliminator’ because I learned through the years in business that empowering the people on my team to do their jobs was the most effective way to lead,” he wrote.

Since his election to Congress, Hern has moved up fast. As RSC chairman, he was instrumental in the caucus’ embrace of two official positions — cutting the federal debt and protecting the border.

Hern said he grew up poor, and he prides himself on confounding the odds.

“My entire life I’ve been told I couldn’t do something, so it’s been my mission in life to prove people wrong,” he told Roll Call in 2021.

Hern could face stiff competition, however. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the current majority whip, is also expected to run for leader.

If the whip position becomes vacant, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., the current chief deputy whip, will make a run to move up, a GOP aide said.

Laura Weiss, Aidan Quigley and Jim Saksa contributed to this report.

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