After U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan lost three votes for Speaker, U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds is running to be the Republican conference nominee.
Aides for the Naples Republican confirmed to Florida Politics he will seek the support in a closed-door GOP conference vote. Meanwhile, Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman reports he will face Majority Whip Tom Emmer and U.S. Reps. Austin Scott of Georgia, Jack Bergman of Michigan, Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Mike Johnson of Louisiana and Mark Green of Tennessee.
A vote could take place as soon as Monday.
Donalds is among the nominees who can claim he earned votes both in the Speaker’s ballots this week and over the protracted Speaker fight in January.
Most recently, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Sarasota Republican, backed Donalds on the second and third ballots this week.
“We’re going to have to solve this race quickly,” Buchanan said in a statement to Florida Politics. “I’ve served with Byron, he’s a conservative champion, and I hope my colleagues will consider his name as we look for a way forward. It’s about time Florida had a seat at the table.”
Buchanan had reluctantly supported Jordan on a first floor vote despite previously backing Majority Leader Steve Scalise. But when Jordan failed to win the gavel, Buchanan shifted away and backed Donalds.
U.S. Rep. Cory Mills is also endorsing Donalds as Speaker.
“I supported (Jim Jordan) for our next Speaker. Unfortunately my votes for him on the floor and in conference to remain Speaker designate was not enough. I now support (Byron Donalds) for the next Speaker of the House,” Mills wrote on X.
Notably, Donalds supported Jordan on all three ballots this week. In January, he had initially supported Kevin McCarthy, but bailed after a couple ballots and after U.S. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas suggested Donalds would make a better Speaker. That put Donalds in a position to negotiate rules concessions with McCarthy before ultimately supporting the California Republican when he won on a 15th ballot.
Earlier, Donalds made a run for GOP Conference Leader against incumbent Elise Stefanik of New York, a bold move for a Representative just elected to a second term. Stefanik won the vote in November on a 144-74 conference decision, but Donalds had made his name and ambitions known to members.
Now Florida lawmakers see Donalds as a strong choice for Speaker.
“Byron Donalds seems to be one of the best to be positioned as a consensus pick for Speaker,” Christian Ziegler, Republican Party of Florida Chair, posted on X. “There are many reasons for this, so hopefully he will run for it. Let’s give the people a Conservative they will be happy with vs. an unknown/boring pick for D.C.-insider reasons.”
Emmer likely heads into a vote with perceived edge as a member of leadership now. Donalds earlier this week suggested it may be time to look outside existing leadership considering the chaos of the past few weeks.
Donalds also is a close ally of former President Donald Trump, the current front-runner for the GOP nomination for President in 2024.
Donalds would be the first Black Speaker of the House in U.S. history, and he’s one of just a few Black Republicans serving in the House. He would also be the first Florida lawmaker to win election as Speaker.
Notably, an election to Speaker would reverberate in Florida, where Donalds is widely expected to run for Governor in 2026.