While the success of Rep. Matt Gaetz’s attempt to topple House Speaker Kevin McCarthy remains uncertain, speculation on Capitol Hill regarding potential successors has already begun. The House GOP would need to secure 217 votes for a candidate to be elected Speaker on the House floor, and the process could be influenced by a variety of factors, including internal party dynamics and external political pressures.

In the event of a vacancy in the speaker’s office, several Republicans are being watched closely as potential candidates or influential figures in the ensuing battles:

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Steve Scalise

As the No. 2 leader of House Republicans, Scalise is considered a natural choice to succeed McCarthy. He has extensive experience in leading his party’s vote-counting operation, having previously served as the GOP whip. Scalise’s inspiring story of surviving a mass shooting during a congressional baseball practice in 2017 has added to his profile. Although he has faced health challenges related to that attack and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cell cancer, in August, Scalise has expressed optimism about his health and ability to handle the role of Speaker. Gaetz has also indicated that he would not oppose Scalise for the position.

Tom Emmer

Emmer currently holds the role of GOP Whip, the No. 3 leadership position among House Republicans. He has been successful in leading the House GOP’s campaign operation in both the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, demonstrating his ability to corral Republican votes on significant issues, despite a narrow majority. Emmer, known for his sense of humor and hockey metaphors, has expressed disinterest in becoming Speaker.

Garret Graves

Graves is a close ally of Speaker Kevin McCarthy and chairs the Elected Leadership Committee, an unelected leadership position. He maintains a strong presence in the speaker’s office and plays a significant role in House GOP leadership.

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Patrick McHenry

McHenry chairs the powerful Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over various crucial areas, including banking, insurance, housing, international finance, and money and credit. His influence grew further when he, along with Graves, negotiated a debt ceiling deal with the White House.

Elise Stefanik

Stefanik is the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress and holds the position of House GOP Conference Chair. Her alliance with former President Donald Trump has solidified her role in House GOP leadership, though she may not be a consensus candidate due to her political evolution from a New York moderate to a supporter of Trump’s agenda.