▶ Watch Video: Kevin McCarthy ousted as House speaker in historic vote

Washington — The historic removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy from his position as House speaker sets up another election to fill the now-vacant seat atop the GOP-controlled lower chamber.

Patrick McHenry, who now temporarily wields the gavel as speaker pro tempore, announced during a meeting with fellow GOP lawmakers on Tuesday that the House Republican conference will hold a candidates’ forum and try to elect a new speaker next week. The House stands in recess to allow the Republican conference and Democratic caucus to “meet and discuss the path forward,” McHenry announced.

While it’s unclear if a candidate can garner enough support from the fractured Republican conference to claim the gavel, some names have emerged as the possible successor to McCarthy, who said he will not run again. The full House votes on the speaker, and Democrats in the minority will almost certainly oppose any Republican candidate unanimously, meaning it will likely be up to the Republicans to find consensus on their own.

At least one candidate had already thrown his hat in the ring as of Wednesday morning. Here are the GOP lawmakers who could mount a bid for the speakership:

Steve Scalise

As the majority leader, Scalise is currently the second-ranking Republican in the House. If he seeks and wins the gavel, it would set off a reshuffling of the House GOP leadership ranks, since the position of majority leader would be vacant.

Scalise was elected to Congress in 2008 and represents Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District. He has risen through the ranks of Republican leadership, serving as majority and minority whip before he was tapped by his colleagues for the No. 2 position for the 118th Congress.

Looming over a potential run for the speaker, though, is Scalise’s diagnosis with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. The majority leader announced the diagnosis in August and said it is “very treatable.” He is expected to undergo treatment for “several months.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise listens during a press conference at the Capitol on July 18, 2023.

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Scalise appears to have earned the endorsement of at least one member of GOP leadership. Majority Whip Tom Emmer told reporters Tuesday that Scalise “would be a great speaker.” Emmer would be in line to run for majority leader if Scalise ascends to the speaker’s office.

In response, Scalise said he hasn’t made any formal announcement about his future within the GOP conference and, when asked if he’s physically up to the job of speaker, replied, “I feel great.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who unilaterally forced the vote to remove McCarthy, also indicated to reporters earlier this week that Scalise could be a good candidate to fill the vacant speaker seat.

“I think very highly of Steve Scalise. I would vote for Steve Scalise,” he said after filing his motion to vacate. “I would probably vote for at least 100 Republicans in our caucus and maybe 100 other Amercans out there who wouldn’t necessarily need to be a member of the body to be considered for the speakership.”

Gaetz said he wouldn’t “pass over” Scalise because of his blood cancer diagnosis and ongoing treatment.”

Jim Jordan

Jordan serves as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Weaponization of the Federal Government Select Subcommittee, which was created after Republicans took control of the House in January. 

He told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday that he is running for the top House job.

“I’ve had a lot of people reach out to us, asking me to do it, because I think we can. We’ll see if that happens, but I think I can,” he said.

Rep. Jim Jordan during the a hearing of the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Elected to represent Ohio’s 4th Congressional District in 2006, Jordan was a founding member and leader of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers. The Ohio Republican in the past served as a thorn in the side of GOP leadership — former House Speaker John Boehner called Jordan a “legislative terrorist.” 

Jordan mounted a bid for House speaker in 2018 after then-Speaker Paul Ryan said he wouldn’t run for another term, but was not expected to garner support from a majority of Republicans. Democrats ended up winning control of the House after the 2018 midterm elections, and McCarthy was elected minority leader by the GOP conference. 

Though Jordan and fellow conservatives often sparred with Boehner, Jordan became an ally of McCarthy’s. He spoke in support of McCarthy’s candidacy for speaker in January and defended the embattled California Republican on Tuesday before the vote to remove him.

Jordan emerged as a possible alternative candidate for speaker at the start of the new Congress in January, garnering a handful of votes from conservative lawmakers  who opposed McCarthy during more than a dozen rounds of voting.

Kevin Hern

Hern, who was elected to represent Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District in 2018, leads the 176-member Republican Study Committee, which bills itself as the conservative caucus of the House GOP.

Rep. Kevin Hern leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on Wednesday, July 26, 2023.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

As with Jordan, Hern garnered backing from several Republicans opposed to McCarthy during the speaker elections in January, even though he cast his vote for his colleague from California.

A spokesperson for Hern told CBS News that he is “seriously considering a run,” but hasn’t made a decision yet. Gaetz on Tuesday listed Hern among Republicans who he could support for speaker, alongside Scalise, Emmer, Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington, and Mike Johnson of Louisiana. 

Ellis Kim contributed reporting.