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Rep. Austin Scott to run for speaker

7th-term Georgia Republican is challenging Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga, arrives for House Republicans’ meeting in the Longworth Building after announcing his run for speaker on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.
Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga, arrives for House Republicans’ meeting in the Longworth Building after announcing his run for speaker on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Georgia Rep. Austin Scott said Friday he will run for speaker, making it a two-person race against House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, for now.

Scott was making his case to fellow House Republicans during a candidate forum that began at 1 p.m. on Friday, hours after Republicans rejected proposed rule changes for how to elect a speaker nominee. 

“I have filed to be Speaker of the House,” Scott wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We are in Washington to legislate, and I want to lead a House that functions in the best interest of the American people.”

Jordan, R-Ohio, a Freedom Caucus founder, was considered the heavy favorite after coming in a close second Wednesday in a nomination contest against Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Scalise withdrew from the race Thursday night after he was unable to assemble a clear majority for election on the floor.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., a Jordan ally, said the Ohioan was sure to become the nominee and would eventually secure the 217 votes needed on the floor for election as the next speaker.

“He’s got the votes on the floor,” Massie said. “I think there’s a real desire to come together.”

As for other candidates, Massie said, “I expect anybody who’s nominated is not going to get 10 percent of the votes Jordan has.”

In a sign of Jordan’s strength, he was to be nominated by members from various factions of the conference. They included Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest bloc of conservatives, and South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson, a leader of the Main Street Coalition. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York was also set to nominate Jordan.

Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas was expected to nominate Scott.

The Georgia Republican, who is in his seventh term, criticized the eight GOP lawmakers who voted with all House Democrats to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the office last week as “nothing more than grifters who have handed control of the House to the Democratic Party in the name of their own glory and fundraising.”

Scott, an Armed Services panel member, has said he would vote against Jordan if the Ohioan ran for speaker. 

According to a source familiar with the situation, some defense hawks have expressed concerns about potential Pentagon budget cuts if Jordan were in charge.

“No,” House Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., told CNN when asked whether he could support Jordan. “I’m supporting Kevin McCarthy.”

But some Republicans remained worried that neither man could secure a majority vote on the House floor, assuming united Democratic opposition. Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon said Republicans may need to work with Democrats to come up with a consensus candidate if the internal GOP battle drags out much longer.

“At some point, when we’ve gone to the end of the wall, and we’re still at this spot, we’re gonna to have come up with a bipartisan solution,” he said.

But Malliotakis dismissed that idea as unworkable.

“I think that’s ridiculous,” she said. “The time to be bipartisan was last week,” she added, referring to McCarthy’s ouster. “This should have never occurred, what happened to Kevin McCarthy. And if the Democrats cared about this institution, they would have never sided with the right-wing fringe to take out our speaker and bring Congress to a halt.”

Laura Weiss, David Lerman and Paul M. Krawzak contributed to this report.

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