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Louisiana’s Mike Johnson elected new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

Speaker-designee Mike Johnson (behind the podium) flanked by members of the House Republican Conference as they bow in prayer following his nomination as Speaker. (Photo X)

The four-term Bayou State Congressman is the fourth speaker nominee to come out of the House Republican Conference since Kevin McCarthy was ousted in early October.

Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson is the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the fourth speaker-designee chosen by the House Republican Conference since the ouster of Kevin McCarthy earlier this month.

Johnson, the 56th person in U.S. history to serve as Speaker and the first from Louisiana, won all Republican votes on the House floor on Wednesday in the first round of voting, a far cry from the 15 rounds it took to elect McCarthy in January. The total tally stood at 220 for Johnson to 209 for Democratic Minority Leader Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York. There are two seats vacant in the chamber and four members did not vote.

All Democrats voted in support of Jeffries, just as they have in every Speaker vote since January.

After a marathon of votes within the Republican Conference on Tuesday, dwindling down the names seeking the nomination, Johnson emerged from the room as the speaker-designee.

“Democracy is messy sometimes, but it is our system,” Johnson told reporters Tuesday night. “This conference that you see, this House Republican majority, is united.”

Following the vote to vacate the chair which removed McCarthy as Speaker, the Republican Conference has nominated three of its members to fill the leadership role – Louisiana’s Steve Scalise, Ohio’s Jim Jordan and Indiana’s Tom Emmer.

Scalise backed out a day after his nomination, knowing he could not reach the 217-vote threshold on the floor. Jordan took his nomination to the floor but failed to unify the conference. Three floor votes resulted in 20, 22, and 25 GOP defectors, respectively, voting for members other than Jordan. Emmer, then, won the most votes in the conference, but hours later withdrew, knowing like Scalise, he could not reach 217.

Johnson has served as the vice chair of the House Republican Conference and a deputy whip. He was elected to Congress in 2016 after serving as a state representative. He served on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.

In Johnson’s letter announcing his bid for speaker and seeking support from his Republican colleagues, the Louisiana lawmaker said his background would help him build coalitions to meet the challenges of the day.

“The complex role of Speaker at this time requires a team player and a bridge-builder with endless energy and a unique mix of skills and experiences,” Johnson wrote. “My extensive background in law, policy, strategic analysis, messaging, managing, networking, and building coalitions happens to have served as uncommon preparation for the extraordinary demands of this day.”

Mississippi’s three Republican Congressmen – Trent Kelly (MS-1), Michael Guest (MS-3) and Mike Ezell (MS-4) – all supported Johnson’s nomination while the state’s lone Democrat Congressman – Bennie Thompson (MS-2) – voted for Jeffries, his party’s leader. It is expected that Guest will maintain his chairmanship in the House Ethics Committee under Speaker Johnson.

“Our Republican nominee for Speaker is my friend from Louisiana, Congressman Mike Johnson,” Congressman Ezell wrote on social media prior to today’s vote. “He and I have a lot in common, including our shared faith and our strong conservative values, and he has my full support.”

Johnson is the first Republican Speaker of the House from the South since Newt Gringrich of Georgia held the gavel in the late 1990s.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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