Race for House Speaker may not end Thursday

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Republicans could be coasting toward a smooth transition or chaos.

Members of the Republican conference will vote in a closed-door meeting to choose their nominee to replace Rep. John Boehner of Ohio as Speaker of the House Thursday morning.

Their large majority in the House normally would mean the candidate chosen Thursday would win the official vote and be third in the line of succession for President of the United States.

Certain members of Congress suggest it may not be so simple.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the expected winner, but a select group of conservatives, called the Freedom Caucus, said they are not done making their choice.

“Really for us, it’s the floor vote where we have to at some point come out with a decision,” said John Fleming (R-La.), a member of the Freedom Caucus.

The official floor vote is scheduled for Oct. 29. Freedom Caucus members are looking for proof whoever gets the speakership next will operate the House differently than Boehner.

“I would hope that if you’re a member of the Republican conference – after that conference makes its decision – you support that nominee,” said Tom Cole (R-Okla.) “If you don’t do that, you’re not really arguing the person they’ve selected. You’re arguing against the conference.”

The two long-shot candidates are Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Daniel Webster of Florida. Each are not expected to beat McCarthy Thursday in the conference vote, but could draw enough votes away from McCarthy for him not to get the necessary 218 votes to be elected speaker.

Fleming said Republicans could be looking at a month long campaign for speaker.

“If you want to be a member of a conference, it’s got certain obligations and responsibilities that go with it. Supporting your nominee to me is one of the preeminent responsibilities of being a member,” said Cole.

The seventh-term Oklahoma Representative said the Freedom Caucus was given its opportunity to vote, run their own candidates, and have a voice in choosing the conference’s nominee.

He expects McCarthy to win the majority on Thursday, and hopes members of the Freedom Caucus will support whoever wins that vote.

“When you can win a three way race on the first ballot, that’s pretty strong,” said Cole.

Republicans will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday morning.

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