Several Republicans opposed to electing Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker of the House opted Thursday to back Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) for the position, throwing yet another long-shot candidate into a speaker race that has no clear end in sight—even though Hern has consistently supported McCarthy.
Hern received seven votes on the tenth ballot Thursday afternoon after getting three in the ninth round of voting, when Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) cast the first vote for him.
All of Hern’s votes were pulled away from Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), whom the 20 Republicans voting against McCarthy coalesced around in earlier rounds, though Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) backed former President Donald Trump for two rounds before switching to Hern.
Hern, 61, does not back the effort to make him speaker—he has voted for McCarthy on every ballot.
Boebert called Hern a “Republican who can unify our conference” in her nomination speech, noting he is not a part of the House Freedom Caucus, which the anti-McCarthy voters are members of.
Hern is about to enter his third full term serving his Tulsa-based district, after being reelected to his deep-red district with 61% of the vote in November.
Hern is a relatively little-known member of Congress and is not a face of the hard right like many of those who voted for him for speaker, like Boebert and Gaetz, but his voting record is extremely conservative, and his House bids have earned Trump’s backing.
A former aerospace engineer, Hern describes himself in his congressional biography as an entrepreneur, previously owning dozens of McDonald’s franchises.
4.5%. According to FiveThirtyEight, that’s how often Hern has voted in line with President Joe Biden on bills—tied for the 10th lowest number of any member of Congress, below the likes of Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
The House speaker vote entered uncharted territory for modern times Thursday after nine ballots were cast without a winner, marking the first time since before the start of the Civil War that such a protracted vote has taken place. Though Hern emerged as an alternative to Donalds among anti-McCarthy Republicans, McCarthy was not able to win back a single vote among his opposition despite giving in to several of the group’s key demands, including allowing for a so-called “motion to vacate” that could allow the House to replace its speaker mid-term. It remains unclear how long the voting might go on and how far lawmakers might be from reaching a compromise to select a speaker.
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